New Delhi: Salman Khan’s magical Eid touch seems to be slowly waning. The underwhelming box office collections recorded by his last two Eid releases, action thriller Race 3 ( ₹166.15 crore ) and Kabir Khan directed Tubelight ( ₹114.57 crore) have impacted the buzz around his latest release Bharat directed by Ali Abbas Zafar that releases 5 June.
“His last two Eid releases did not meet expectations. And the point was they were simply bad films, and not movies that may have failed because of lack of entertainment value," said Atul Mohan, editor of trade magazine Complete Cinema.
Film trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar said Khan’s Eid offerings were almost part of staple Eid festivities in the country and expectations from them are always sky-high.
“But with the onset of digital platforms that offer a plethora of content, the expectations go beyond Khan and the onus falls on the director to deliver a good film which is when the big numbers will come," Johar explained.
To be sure, made at a budget of ₹125 crore, Bharat has already recovered around ₹80 crore from its satellite and digital right sales. Khan has long-term deals with the Star network and Amazon Prime Video for the same. The film that is a remake of south Korean drama Ode to My Father, will see Khan play a man ageing from 18 to 70 and feature Katrina Kaif along with him. Khan, along with co-producers T-Series has hiked ticket rates for the film that opens this week, evening shows will now come for nearly double the amount for regular films, a trend started by Sanju and Thugs of Hindostan last year.
Trade website Box Office India said advance booking for Bharat that began last Friday had gone past big-ticket 2019 productions like Kalank but was nowhere near Khan’s previous Eid blockbusters like Sultan, which incidentally, was also released on a Wednesday, or all-time hits like Baahubali 2: The Conclusion and Avengers: Endgame.
“Footfalls for the film may be low but the high rates should compensate. However, even opening day shows have only recorded 75-80% occupancy till now and are yet to be completely sold out," Mohan said.
He added that there are other challenges to Khan’s film, on its opening day.
“India is playing South Africa in the Cricket World Cup that could affect some shows," Mohan pointed out. Also, the growing market for Hollywood in India is manifest in the fact that for the first time, Khan’s Eid film will have an American competitor—Marvel’s superhero flick, X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
At a screen count of 4,000 across India, Bharat is all set to woo staunch Salman Khan fans on its opening day, who trade experts say, are sure to come in hordes. The rest is up to what else the film has to offer. In the past, Khan-starrers Sultan (2016) and Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) have recorded opening days of ₹36.59 crore and ₹26.67 crore respectively.
“If Eid falls on the 6th, then the Wednesday opening will be between ₹20-25 crore but if it falls on the 5th then around ₹35 crore. Thereafter, if the content holds up, we could see a ₹125 crore extended weekend," Mohan said.