It has been a hell of a week at the movies. To start with, the multiplexes had their biggest collections of 2009 during the weekend, with occupancies touching 80% or higher. This was due mainly to the staggering opening of Kambakkht Ishq and an equally notable contribution from Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaur (Ice Age 3). Even New York, The Hangover and to some extent, The Bolt, held their own and contributed to this robust weekend.
Like the multiplex owners, even Akshay Kumar must have heaved a sigh of relief with the opening collections of his new film, Kambakkht Ishq, especially after two disasters in 2009, Chandni Chowk to China and 8X10 Tasveer.
Kambakkht Ishq had one of the widest releases ever with almost 700 prints in 1,100 cinemas in India and about 260 prints in the overseas market. The film came with a price tag of Rs75 crore including the cost of print and publicity, which was entirely funded by its co-producers, Eros International.
Also Read Ashish Saksena’s earlier columns
The reviews of the film were unanimously scathing, but yet again the opening of the film proved that reviews don’t really matter to audiences when there are stars in a film.
Full page print advertisments announced the biggest opening ever for Kambakkht Ishq with its Rs24 crore net collections over three days. This claim was ultimately found to be not true; Ghajini, with its Rs27 crore net collections in the comparable period, continues to hold the record.
The India theatrical business of Kambakkht Ishq in its first week closed at Rs20 crore distributor share and will touch Rs25 crore across its entire run. Collections were affected due to a massive downfall in the film from Monday evening onwards.
Due to the very imposing overseas presence of Eros, Kambakkht Ishq is expected to do a minimum business of about Rs15 crore in the overseas market, which is exceptional. Music, home video and satellite rights also belong to Eros.
Though audiences returned to the cinema in full force and the Kambakkht Ishq team popped the bubbly, the dampener this week was that Eros will suffer a loss of almost Rs10-12 crore on this film. This is one of those phenomena of our times wherein producers are in a hurry to brand a film a “hit” and, due to lopsided economics, not all those associated with the film eventually reap the benefits of a successful film.
Ice Age 3, meanwhile, was released simultaneously in English and Hindi by 20th Century Fox in about 92 screens. The reviews were surprisingly not so good and some people also thought that the 3D effects of the film did not match up to the ones in Bolt which released just a week earlier.
But Ice Age 3 had a terrific opening, which proved that animation films have finally found acceptance in India. Its first week closed at a very impressive distributor share of Rs1 crore with an overall expected business of about Rs1.25 crore across its entire run.
Curious case: Kambakkht Ishq’s co-producers, Eros International, will suffer a loss of almost Rs10-12 crore on this film.
We cannot but help revisit New York and The Hangover, as both films turned out be among the most sustainable films of the year, compelling us to yet again review their businesses, based on the excellent second week collections.
New York, against our estimate of Rs25 crore business in India will now easily touch Rs28 crore distributor share, making it the biggest film of the year, ahead of Kambakkht Ishq.
In its second week, The Hangover also collected almost the same amount as in the first week. We had estimated its run to wind up at Rs65 lakh, but the way the film is holding up, we now expect it to easily touch the Rs80 lakh mark in India.
Releasing today are Shortkut-The Con is On, Morning Walk, Dekh Bhai Dekh and Sankat City in Hindi; and Transformers 2 is releasing in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Also releasing is The Proposal in English. Another busy week ahead—audiences are surely not complaining.
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 email@example.com