Hailed as the most expensive and extravagant Indian film ever, Rajnikanth’s 2.0 hit 7000 cinema screens across the country to mixed reviews. Initial reactions suggest that the film has been appreciated by the audiences. However, critics are not convinced of the content. Will this be a repeat of the Tamil superstar’s films like 'Lingaa' and 'Kaala'? Or will the anticipation for the film and it’s visual effects carry the film through, and help the producers recover its massive Rs 5.5 billion budget?
Trade pundits and box office analysts believe that negative critics’ reviews will not dampen the film’s prospects at the box office to a great extent. “The film has outstanding special effects and in 3D, it’s a treat to watch, which should hold it in good stead. The Hindi shows in 3D saw 95 per cent occupancy on the first day. The 2D shows saw low occupancy at around 45-60 per cent. The Hindi 3D version alone is looking at a collection of Rs 200 million on the first day,” says Komal Nahta, trade analyst.
Estimates peg that the collection from Tamil and Telugu version will be at least Rs 500 million. While it is nowhere close to Baahubali’s collection for the first day (Rs one billion on day one across languages), it will collect a hefty bounty on the first day.
There are those that feel the initial hype may not sustain the film through its lifetime. Even with the audiences giving the film a thumbs up one the first day, there is scepticism that the footfalls and collections may peter out over the weekend, as the anticipation wears off, and mixed/negative word of mouth takes over.
“We saw it happen with Thugs of Hindostan recently. It made more than Rs 500 million on the first day and now is struggling to even cross the Rs 2 billion mark (collection as of November 29 is estimated at Rs 1.44 billion). 2.0 will take a great opening, there is no doubt. But how it sustains is the question,” says a distributor.
“The difference between Thugs of Hindostan and 2.0, say experts, is that the former suffered from negative reviews and word of mouth. Since audience reaction for 2.0 is nowhere near as negative, the film should not suffer as much. Yes there are flaws, but the fact remains that the film will attract footfalls, especially kids. The first weekend itself could see the Hindi version do a business of Rs 1 billion. Post the first weekend will be the acid test though,” adds Shaaminder Malik, trade analyst and distributor for North India.
Booking trends for the film showed that the evening shows even outside of the South Indian states were attracting audiences, with some screens being sold out well before the show. This bears well for the film considering the advance booking for the film was below expectations. While one million and 1.25 million tickets were sold on online ticketing platforms BookMyShow and PayTM respectively, experts expected the advance booking numbers to be better.
With a duration 2.5 hours, exhibitors are faced with the challenge of programming shows of the film. Most multiplexes and single screens have between three and five shows of 2.0. The film is seeing healthy advance booking for the weekend, especially in the southern states where it is expected to do booming business. In fact, multiplexes and single screens in key southern markets like Chennai are running more than five shows of the film per day.
The ticket prices for the shows in the ex-South India markets have risen, especially for the evening shows and the coming weekend shows by nearly 20 per cent on an average. The premium screens (recliner chairs, on seat food service, lounge privileges etc at Inox and PVR cost anywhere between Rs 750 and Rs 1,550 for the Hindi 3D version. Given the rates, and an average 50-60 per cent occupancy rates in these regions, trade pundits expect the film’s Hindi print to cross Rs 1 billion within the first week itself. In the Southern markets, ticket prices are regulated, and hence range between Rs 75 and Rs 250 in most places.
The film has reportedly recovered almost Rs 3.5 billion from sale of distribution, satellite and streaming rights. It has been released in 3500 screens overseas, which will add to the film’s global lifetime box office. The film should sail through, even if by the skin of its teeth feel experts, but not solely from box office collections.