After shattering the paid preview collection record held by 3 Idiots since 2009, the Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone starrer Chennai Express might well be on the way to equal Salman Khan's Ek Tha Tiger's opening collection of Rs 31 crore.
The Disney UTV and Red Chillies Entertainment co-production raked in Rs 6.75 crore in paid preview collections (3 Idiots made Rs 2.75 crore) and saw heavy footfalls on Friday. The collections are expected to sustain over the weekend and pundits peg the festive weekend collections to amount to Rs 85-90 crore.
For the weekend, the movie has recorded nearly 90 per cent advance booking in theatres nationally. It is seeing positive box office prospects abroad, too, with reports claiming collection of Rs 3 crore-plus for the paid preview.
Suniel Wadhwa, independent distributor and box office analyst, says: "SRK's innovative marketing strategy like non-stop city tours, integration with reality and serials, brand promotions and, over and above, high quality content with masala entertainment which makes for universal appeal, will smash all records for openings on an extended weekend. The opening over the extended weekend will equal or might even surpass the lifetime business of Rohit Shetty's Golmaal 1 (Rs 28 crore) and Golmaal 2 (Rs 58 crore) put together. The lifetime business will be equal or close to the Golmaal series collection of Rs 194 crore." (Golmaal 3 raked in Rs 108 crore.)
The film has been released across 3,700 screens in India and nearly 750 abroad. It has been released in Morocco, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Peru and Israel, apart from North America (195 screens), the UK (175 screens), West Asia/North Africa (55 screens) and Australia (30 screens) on the same day as India. It is available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, German, Hebrew, Dutch, Turkish and Malay, apart from Hindi, subtitled for the international markets.
The challenge would be to sustain the impetus into the coming week, since the movie doesn't necessarily tick all the boxes for the viewer. For one thing, the lack of subtitles. Set in southern India, the movie has quite a few dialogues in Tamil and the absence of subtitles leave viewers flustered after a point. Having said that, the film has picked up very well in the western and southern regions.
In-movie branding is nothing new in Bollywood but with Chennai Express, the audience gets a taste of in-your-face promotion, as protagonist Khan goes on to extol the features and price of a Nokia smartphone in detail. The movie has close to 18 brand associations across categories like food and beverages, mobile handsets and fast moving consumer goods. These include Nokia, Emami, McDonald's, Western Union, Reliance Digital, Lux Soaps, Videocon, Nerolac, Palam Sarees and Baskin Robbins, among others. The movie is said to have raked in Rs 30 crore from these tie-ups.
"With Chennai Express being this year's biggest movie extravaganza, it was natural for brands to come on board and partner with us... We made sure that we aligned with brands in a way that benefits both, the movie and the brand. As far as in-film integration is concerned, it strictly depends on the script. If there is an opportunity to incorporate a brand in the script, then we go ahead and execute it in the best possible way," says Shikha Kapur, executive director, marketing, studios, Disney UTV.
The satellite rights for the movie also fetched a handsome price at Rs 40 crore, bought by Zee Entertainment's new Hindi movie channel and pictures.