Mumbai: Advance booking figures and ticket rates for the Friday release Dhoom: 3 look all set to defy gravity, much like lead actor Aamir Khan’s circus artist character.

Khan plays a trapeze artist and a thief in the latest edition of the money-spinning franchise from Yash Raj Films (YRF), which is attracting more than healthy prior interest at major cinemas and multiplex chains despite jaw-dropping ticket rates. The 175-minute-long movie is being released in 2D and IMAX formats, and ticket prices for the IMAX version range between 700 and 900, or up to $15, in places. For the normal 2D shows, tickets cost anything between 100 and 400, the de rigueur price slab for the average A-list production. The prices will go up or down depending on show timings, with weekend evening and night slots holdings costing more. “All tent-pole films releasing during a festive period have been differently priced and Dhoom: 3 is really no different from this," pointed out Rafiq Gangjee, vice-president, marketing and communications, at YRF.

“The advance business looks very good, and we also have a lot of block bookings from corporate groups, from the banking sector, from dealers who want to treat their clients," said Devang Sampat, chief strategy officer at the Cinepolis India chain. “Most of our prime shows on Saturday and Sunday have been taken by bulk bookings." Moviegoers who might want to skip Dhoom: 3 this weekend won’t have much of a choice, with multiplexes and single screen cinemas devoting the bulk of their shows to the action movie. No other movie is opening this week, and the Hollywood movie The Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, has shifted its release date to 3 January. If Dhoom: 3 takes in a spectacular opening, as is expected, it might put a question mark over next week’s scheduled release, the 3D animated movie Mahabharata. “At the 15-screen Cinepolis Megaplex in Pune, we will be playing Dhoom: 3 on 57 shows in one day," Sampat added. “As far as I know, that is the highest number of shows for any recent movie. We are clearly set for the biggest opening ever on a non-holiday Friday."

Dhoom: 3 will open on upwards of 4,500 screens in India and about 1,000 in overseas territories, Gangjee said. Apart from Hindi, Dhoom: 3 is also opening in Tamil and Telugu dubbed versions. “Twenty percent of the five IMAX shows on Friday in Mumbai have already gone (been booked out) as of Tuesday," said an employee of Big Cinemas, which operates one of two IMAX screens in the city. (Dhoom: 3 is also opening at a third IMAX screen in Bangalore.) The employee, who is not authorized to speak to the media, added that the advance booking is better than for Chennai Express, the Shah Rukh Khan-Deepika Padukone starrer that opened on 9 August. The prices might not dip after the first week, as is often the practice.

“Wednesday is a holiday because of Christmas, and this is also vacation time, so why would you reduce the prices?" asked this person. “Not unless business drastically dips, which is highly unlikely."

There are three reasons for the surge of interest in Dhoom: 3, which has been directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya and also stars Katrina Kaif, Abhishek Bachchan, Uday Chopra and Jackie Shroff: the quality and prestige associated with YRF, the curiosity surrounding Aamir Khan’s role in the movie, and the overall popularity of the franchise, said Prakhar Joshi, head of programming at PVR Cinemas. Going by the advance booking, Dhoom: 3 has taken in net box office revenue of 1 crore even before revealing itself, he added.

YRF has also negotiated a release in Pakistan, where a recent court order banned the release of Indian films. “Pakistan is a very important and special market for us and we are delighted that Dhoom: 3 will release as planned to coincide with its global release date Friday 20th," said Avtar Singh Panesar, vice-president, international operations, at YRF in a press release. “We wish to extend our gratitude to the authorities for their support to ensure that business for producers as well as the local Pakistani distributors and exhibitors is protected."

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