It was sometime in August last year when Warner Bros. announced the decision to postpone the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from 21 November to 16 July.
All hell broke loose. Conspiracy theories cropped up, with rumours, petitions, pamphlets and Internet postings protesting this decision.
Considering the performance of Warner Bros.’s The Dark Knight, which grossed at least $1 billion (Rs4,580 crore today) worldwide, the most logical reason could well be the one made by an unnamed source in the Entertainment Weekly magazine, saying that “Warner Bros. does not need the money this year any more.”
A group called Do Not Mess with Harry Potter surfaced, which spread the word “No Potter, No Movies.” They urged nerdfighters across the world to boycott all movies till such time that Warner reschedules the release date back to November.
It was in the middle of this excitement that the movie, directed by David Yates, released on 16 July in the UK, the US, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Canada, Australia, Taiwan, New Zealand, Brazil, Spain and Mexico—simultaneously.
Also Read Ashish Saksena’s earlier columns
However, the IMAX 3D version of the film could not be released simultaneously because of the prior commitment of IMAX to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. But thankfully, in India, the film also released in IMAX format in three cinemas, two weeks ahead of the US release of the IMAX version.
The opening of the latest Harry Potter movie in India was the biggest for an English film in 2009, surpassing the opening of X-Men Origins: Wolverine this year, bringing in much-needed cheer to the multiplexes. Worldwide, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince broke the record of Spider-Man 3 ($382 million) in five-day gross by storming the box office with a gross of $394 million in the same period.
The movie released with 350 prints in 375 cinemas in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and the IMAX 3D format. The reviews were average, but that did not stop the predominantly young crowd and Potter fans from storming the cinemas across the country, even in the dubbed market.
It had a huge weekend of Rs4 crore distributor share and the first week closed at almost Rs6 crore share. The film looks all set to go to the range of Rs8-10 crore business by the end of its run, making it one of the most successful Hollywood films of 2009 besides Slumdog Millionaire.
Wait is over: A still from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The movie received average reviews, but that did not stop the predominantly young crowd and Potter fans from storming cinemas across the country. AP
Which of these two films will finally move ahead will become clear after a two-three week run of Harry Potter and we will keep you posted.
Jashnn, produced by Mukesh Bhatt and directed by the Raksha-Hasnain duo, failed to offer any reason for a celebration. It released with 270 prints in 550 cinemas across the country. Costing Rs7 crore including print and advertising, the film will be termed a disaster with its box office business being limited to about Rs1 crore in India. Keeping in mind revenues from other sources, the loss is expected to be in the range of Rs3-4 crore.
Interestingly, as a producer Mukesh Bhatt will not lose more than Rs50 lakh to Rs1 crore on Jashnn as he had pre-sold all major distribution territories, including Mumbai and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh on minimum guarantees. It would be these distributors who will have to shoulder most of the losses.
Dekh Re Dekh, which was to be released last week with the title Dekh Bhai Dekh, had its release stalled by Delhi high court when Anand Mahendroo took the producers to court for using the title that belonged to him.
They missed the release date and the film was finally released with a new title and with 65 prints in about 150 cinemas. However, it was a washout from Day 1 and ended up being discontinued mid-week itself from most screens.
The films being released on Friday are Luck and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (English and Hindi versions) and Perfect Mismatch in limited release.
Ashish Saksena is an executive with extensive experience in India’s entertainment sector and was previously CEO of PVR Pictures. His column looks at the business side of Bollywood releases.
Respond to his columns at email@example.com