New Bollywood release 99 starring Kunal Khemu and Soha Ali Khan is expected to bring relief to multiplexes and film-starved movie buffs after nearly five weeks of a dry spell due to a deadlock between producers and multiplexes.
Made at a budget of over Rs.150 million, the film is releasing Friday worldwide with around 500 prints.
The makers of 99 are going out of way to release it despite the deadlock which halted the release of new movies last month. The producers are going for an independent release as the United Producers and Distributors Forum (UPDF) were against it.
Anupam Mittal, chairman of People Group, one of the producers of the movie, says that releasing the film without the industry's support was not easy.
"There were reservations from the producers' association and I understand their perspective. We tried having a dialogue and explaining our situation to them. They are not happy, but we don't have a choice," Mittal told IANS over phone from Mumbai.
"When we approached the multiplexes for a release, it was like a call from heaven for them. They were very happy and welcomed the film with open arms," he added.
Mittal though refused to divulge details on the revenue sharing ratio arrived at between them and the multiplexes for "99".
Directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K., 99 is a comedy inspired by real events in 1999 and 2000. Experts say 99 doesn't fall in the "big product" range, but it will bring footfalls. It also stars Boman Irani and Cyrus Broacha in the lead. Mahesh Manjrekar and Vinod Khanna will also be seen in pivotal roles.
Mittal has co-produced the film with Aditya Shastri, CEO of People Pictures.
"99 is a multiplex movie as it has some star value attached to it. Moreover, the reports are positive for the movie from Mumbai and it just might help increase the footfalls," said a PVR cinemas official on condition of anonymity.
"However, we need at least four to five back-to-back big budget movies to draw in audiences in huge numbers. But we are pinning hopes that this movie might help in bringing audiences," the official added.
99 has already had eight test screenings in Mumbai and one in New York and Mittal informs "anybody who has watched the film has thoroughly enjoyed it".
"We had timed our release during the IPL (Indian Premier League) because cricket plays an integral part to our film. Our first date was April 18, which was then pushed to May 1 and then further pushed to May 8. This was done because we were given to understand that the strike would be called off by May 5," said Mittal.
"But we can't wait any more. IPL gets over in a couple of weeks and our financiers have already waited patiently. We owe it to them and the entire cast and crew to get this movie out in the best way possible. We think May 15 gives us that platform and beyond that I cannot go or else I'd face some severe financial consequences," he added.
While, the advance bookings for the movie opened Wednesday evening, multiplex chain like BIG Cinemas is also offering special offers like two tickets at Rs.99 for the first day first show of the film.