The hype surrounding Salman Khan-starrer Dabangg has been growing over the past month and is likely to be at an optimum when the film releases on Friday. The film has come across as a respite to both single-screen theatre owners as well as multiplexes, who are waiting for the dry run at the box-office to end.
The film, produced by Arbaaz Khan Productions and Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd, is going to be released on 1,300 screens. Exhibitors are enthused with the response they have received. “After a long time, we have seen this kind of advance booking of tickets. We expect it to be houseful during the weekend. After 3 idiots last year, this is the first film which has generated so much interest among movie-goers,” said Vinay Choksey, who controls Gaiety Galaxy in Bandra and Maratha Mandir in Mumbai Central, among other theatres in Mumbai.
Reliance Big Cinemas, the country’s largest multiplex operator, is releasing the film on 90 screens. “The response has been excellent, as we have got 20,000 advance bookings for Friday,” said a company spokesperson. Big Cinemas is expecting 95-100 per cent occupancy over the weekend.
The film, made on a budget of Rs 30 crore, had a significant marketing budget of Rs 12 crore. “At Rs 42 crore, Dabangg is a winner. The music rights were sold to T-Series for an attractive price and the satellite rights of the film have also been sold. The producers would make a handsome profit,” said Vajir Singh, film trade analyst and executive editor, BoxOffice India.
However, one limitation of Dabangg is its pure mass-appeal and its fortunes are expected to be limited to the Indian market, say exhibitors and analysts. “Overseas audiences might not want to see a film like Dabangg, but considering that we have had huge hits like Gadar and Wanted in the past which solely relied on the Indian market, we can safely say the film would get a great opening. It might not get an opening like 3 idiots, as it had paid previews and had got a four-day weekend window, but Dabangg is expected to get an opening like Ghajini, the second biggest grosser in Indian cinema,” said Singh.
It’s not just Mumbai, the prime territory for Bollywood films for box office collections, where exhibitors are excited. Inox Kolkata, for example, has got block bookings from corporate houses. “The response for the film has been tremendous, owing to the marketing and promotional efforts by Salman Khan. Even before advance bookings for the film were opened, we had block bookings from corporates. The advance bookings for the film opened yesterday across the east, and till now we are about 70 per cent booked for the weekend in Kolkata and in the districts across the region. I expect the movie to open to and run at 100 per cent occupancy over the weekend, especially in light of the fact that it is a mass movie,” said Virendra Marya, director (eastern region), Inox Leisure.
Another proof of the positive buzz surrounding the film has come from the stock markets, as the shares of Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision, co-producers of Dabangg, have jumped 40 per cent in the last one month. In comparison, the BSE SmallCap and BSE MidCap indices have both gained five per cent in the last month. “There is speculation surrounding this stock and it is largely surrounding the fate of Dabangg. If the film is successful, marketmen may further push the stock,” said a media analyst with a Mumbai-based brokerage asking not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
The buzz surrounding the film has been terrific, as Prakhar Joshi, head of programming at PVR Cinemas says, “We opened advance bookings on Tuesday evening and we have already sold 15,000 tickets. The response is particularly good in tier-II cities such as Indore, Allahabad and Aurangabad. We are expecting over 80 per cent occupancy on an average across all theatres.”
Concurred Anant Verma, business head, DT Cinemas, “The response has been very good, almost at par with My Name is Khan and 3 idiots. We are looking at 90 per cent occupancy on Friday and 100 per cent occupancy on Saturday and Sunday.” DT Cinemas would be running the movie in 17 screens across Delhi, Gurgaon and Chandigarh.
An official from Satyam Cineplexes said, “We are expecting our theatres to be houseful on weekend. We are showing the movie on eight screens in Delhi and Indore. The opening may not be as big as 3 idiots but the film may clock similar business”.