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Screen cautiously prepares to wrestle cricket for attention

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After over two months of cricket dominating screen watchers’ schedules, the Akshay Kumar-starrer, Thank You, is being prepared for release this Friday to end the box office’s dry spell.

Though producers and distributors are optimistic, industry observers advise caution. For, Bollywood’s first big-ticket release this year is to battle for eyeballs with cricket again; it is also the day of the inaugural match of the Indian Premier League tournament (IPL-4). The producers have, however, covered themselves, having recovered 90 per cent of costs through sale of satellite, music and territorial rights of the movie.

“There have been close to two months of cricket now and fatigue is bound to set in. There is a thirst among cine goers for a good film. We are expecting the movie to do well,” said Siddharth Roy Kapur, chief executive officer, motion pictures, at UTV. Thank You would be the biggest movie to be released this year, having been produced at a budget of Rs 50 crore. An additional Rs 8 crore has been expended on promotion.

The production house has raked in Rs 30 crore from sale of satellite and music rights. While Colors has taken the satellite rights, T-Series have bought the movie’s music rights. Pictures has tied up with distributors for about 30 per cent of all territorial rights, for about Rs 15 crore.

“We have recovered 90 per cent of our costs through sale of satellite, music and territorial rights. Over 70 per cent of sales of territorial rights are yet to be exploited. So, we will be sitting on tidy profits at the end in the opening weekend itself,” Kapur added.

Komal Nahata, film trade analyst and editor, koimoi.com, while conceding there is a hunger for movies among the audience, said: “There have been no major releases in March. The film should do well. Viewership, however, would be impacted, as the release will coincide with the first day of the IPL and with the Indian team winning the World Cup, there is renewed interest in cricket.”

Estimates available with BoxOffice India, the only recognised agency for evaluating the movie business in the Hindi film industry, show movies Faltu and Game, which released on April 1, having lost business. Their opening weekend coincided with the World Cup finals on Saturday.

While Faltu had net collections of Rs 10.5 crore over the first three days, Game made a paltry Rs 2.50 crore. A spokesperson from BoxOffice India said, “Collections for Faltu have been around 20 per cent lower because the release co-incided with the finals. The film should have made a net collection of Rs 16 crore on a normal weekend. Game did not fare well with audiences but the movie could have made another Rs 1.50 crore if not for cricket.”

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