Delhi might be suffering, but for the box office, at least, the drought is over. With the release of Kabir Khan’s New York, the long, dry spell of strike-struck Fridays is over. The coming weeks look even more exciting, with films like Sajid Nadiawala’s Kambakkht Ishq, Imtiaz Ali’s Love Aaj Kal and Neeraj Vora’s Shortkut - The Con is on lined up.
The film-hungry janta turned up in droves to snap up tickets, giving New York a big weekend gross. “It’s the first film to be released after the strike was called off, so the occupancy rate was almost 98 per cent,” says Amitabh Vardhan, CEO, PVR Cinemas.
“It’s back to eat, sleep and drink movies,” says a happy Munish Sharma of Satyam Cineplex. “We had opened the booking last week. Though the initial response wasn’t that exciting, sales picked up Wednesday onwards, followed by almost 90 per cent occupancy over the weekend.”
Standalone theatres are doing well, too. “We are booked for the next 20 shows,” says RK Malhotra, manager of Delite cinema. “Not just the public, even the staff is so excited. It’s like life has returned.”
So hot, so cool
While the summers this time are really bad, for the cinema owners this heat is a blessing — it is driving more people into the cool comfort of the halls. “Spending three hours in an air-conditioned cinema is the best thing to do in such heat,” says Pihu Chatterji, an IT consultant.
“My weekends were dull and boring without new releases. Anyway, there’s nothing much that Delhi has to offer by way of entertainment. I am waiting for Love Aaj Kal and Kaminey to release,” says Raj Varma, a fashion student at NIFT.
“It’s only going to get better,” says Deepak Taluja of Fun Cinemas. “There’s a lot of hype around Kambakkht Ishq [starring Akshay, Kareena and several Hollywood stars]. Even the summer vacations are extended, which assures us of the family crowd as well.”
According to trade experts, the film industry incurred a loss of Rs 350 crore during the 82-day strike. “But now we seem to be back on track,” says analyst Taran Adarsh. “With so many big movies up for release, Bollywood is all set to roar.”