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Diwali releases Sooryavanshi and Annaatthe have set the cash registers ringing, and trade experts say big-ticket movies have already hit 60-70% of pre-pandemic cinema ticket sales.

Caps on seating and other restrictions in some states may have dented earnings but Maharashtra, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, which had crashed completely, are finally seeing signs of recovery. Collections augur well for upcoming releases with ‘revenge viewing’ seeming to have become a clear phenomenon.

“Box office earnings are not completely on par with pre-covid times but definitely very promising for the exhibition sector that can finally heave a sigh of relief," said film producer, trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar. He said the 150 crore combined opening weekend for Sooryavanshi, Annaatthe and Marvel flick Eternals was heartening, given that Maharashtra, which contributes over 30% of Hindi film business, was operating at 50% capacity.

Trade website Box Office India said Rohit Shetty-directed Sooryavanshi had managed a first week total of 120 crore, comparing well with Bollywood’s Diwali offerings over the past three years. In 2019, ensemble comedy Housefull 4 collected 136 crore in its first week; in 2018, Yash Raj Films’ period drama Thugs of Hindostan netted 127 crore; while in 2017, Shetty’s own comedy flick Golmaal Again made 136 crore.

“The film continues its super strong run in the Mumbai circuit with collections over the 48 crore mark (within the first six days), which is a 40%-plus contribution for the film. The collections in the North are at far lower levels but pretty steady," Box Office India said in a blog.

Markets like Delhi and eastern Punjab have never been strong for Shetty’s films but are still seeing the first signs of recovery from the pandemic with Sooryavanshi, it said.

To be sure, heavy rainfall in Tamil Nadu has impacted the business of Rajinikanth’s Annaatthe over the past few days; the movie had made 86 crore across India at last count.

Ashish Saksena, chief operating officer, cinemas at BookMyShow, said Sooryavanshi had crossed 2.1 million tickets on the platform, while Annaatthe put up a robust show with 1.2 million tickets before sales paused due to the flood situation. Eternals has been holding strong too, having crossed 500,000 tickets.

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