12 June 2009. The day marked the resumption of the official release of Hindi films after a 70-day stand-off between producers and exhibitors.
The theories and predictions were being flung at all and sundry. While some felt that the films would take huge openings because audiences were desperate to come back to cinemas, some other lesser optimistic folks thought the audiences have lost the habit of visiting cinemas and they’d much rather prefer to own and watch films at home.
On that confused note, but true to the magnitude of the occasion, there were four films lined up for release, namely, Kal Kissne Dekha, Karma: Crime Passion Reincarnation, Bride Wars and 17 Again.
We start with the most anticipated of the lot: Vashu Bhagnani’s Kal Kissne Dekha, which released across 450 cinemas in India.
Kal Kissne Dekha starrer Vaishali Desai and Jackky Bhagnani made about Rs3 crore at the end of the first week in India.
The film opened to decent audience reaction and an opening that ranged from good in smaller centres to above average in single screens and multiplexes. The mood was upbeat in the trade and it was expected that the film would pick up by the evening shows despite the India-West Indies T20 match on the night of 12 June.
However, the film did not pick up. The collections were steady in single screens and smaller centres, but the film never really took off in the multiplexes. The film reviews on Saturday did not help matters at all.
The film’s collections dropped sharply from Monday onwards and the film, which came with a price tag of almost Rs24 crore, ended up making only about Rs3 crore from India theatrical business at the end of the first week. The revenues of music, home video and satellite rights will, of course, be monetized separately by BIG Pictures.
My prediction is that the film will finally wind up at a distributor share of a maximum of Rs4 crore from India theatrical, resulting in losses as high as Rs12-14 crore for its producers Bhagnani and BIG Pictures.
The other release, Karma: Crime Passion Reincarnation, directed by M.R. Shahjahan, who had earlier assisted Mukul Anand, released in both English and Hindi versions. Thankfully, the film was sensibly released with about 50 prints and across 75 cinemas, mainly in multiplexes and key cities of India.
The film had a budget of about Rs2 crore, inclusive of print and publicity costs. Thanks to the decent reviews, the film will end up making about Rs35-40 lakh distributor share across India. Its satisfactory per print average will help the film fetch a decent price for home video and satellite rights. At the end of its first cycle, the film may just about break even thanks to its judicious release and above average content.
We now come to the two high-profile English releases of the week. Bride Wars, starring Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway and directed by Gary Winick (who also directed 13 Going on 30), came with huge expectations from chick-flick audiences. The film was released by 20th Century Fox with 33 prints and nine digital cinemas, which was a very wide release indeed but was much in line with the perception of the film.
In its first cycle, the film opened at Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Goa and Bangalore. The film is expected to close the first week at a distributor share of about Rs15 lakh, which is rather disappointing considering the pre-release buzz the film was carrying.
Due to some dispute, the film did not release in PVR Cinemas. This may end up affecting the film’s collections by another Rs6-7 lakh.
Last but not the least, we come to the surprise packet of the week, Warner Bros’, 17 Again starring Zac Efron, Matthew Perry and Leslie Mann. The film is directed by Burr Steers. It opened with 11 prints and 10 digital screens in Mumbai, Delhi and Pune in phase I of its release. Thanks to its limited release, the film took an amazing opening. In fact, its collection in the weekdays exceeded that of Kal Kissne Dekha in most multiplexes where both the films were playing.
The film’s first week takings are expected to be about Rs25 lakh, which is terrific for the kind of limited release that the film has had. It is expected to carry on in week 2 with as much success. Its release in other cities is still pending.
Paying Guest and X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Hindi and English versions) are being released on Friday across India in almost 350 screens each. In limited release, we also have Raftaar, Hum Phirr Milnge and Let’s Dance competing for audience attention.
Ashish Saksena is an executive with extensive experience in India’s entertainment sector and was previously CEO of PVR Pictures. His column will look at the business side of Bollywood releases. Respond to this column at firstname.lastname@example.org