Even as the watch-at-home habit persists - a habit that is tough to break and even tougher for movie studios to deal with - rumours of the death of movie theatres have been greatly exaggerated. As fears about public gatherings fade, 2023 for the Hindi film industry looks technicolour.
Shah Rukh Khan (SRK)-starrer Pathaan is likely to rake in a first-day collection of Rs 50 crore, going by the feelers sent out by multiplex chains, film trade experts, and ticket-booking sites.
The film will have an India and global release on Wednesday across 5,000 screens.
Advance bookings of Pathaan, which also stars Deepika Padukone and John Abraham in leading roles, have touched Rs 40 crore so far, as the buzz around the film grows steadily. This is regardless of ticket prices in some theatres in Delhi and Gurugran touching Rs 2,100-2,500 per head, according to film exhibitors.
“If you take the advance bookings, as well as the spot bookings, that will happen on Day One, the film will comfortably touch Rs 50 crore in the opening-day collection,” says Rajender Singh Jyala, chief programming officer at multiplex chain Inox Leisure.
“This will easily rank among the biggest openers for a Hindi film after the Hindi version of KGF: Chapter 2 that struck gold at nearly Rs 54 crore last year on Day One,” he adds.
Pathaan marks the comeback of SRK to the big screen after over four years. The actor will be seen as an action hero for the first time on screen, with the film to be released in Tamil and Telugu, besides Hindi.
Nearly 25 single-screen theatres, which had shut operations following the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, will lift the curtains on Wednesday with Pathaan across states such as Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Uttar Pradesh, observe trade experts.
Movie shows are expected to start early morning in some theatres (from 6 am) to accommodate the first-day crowd that is expected to throng cinema halls, say cineastes.
Nelson D’Souza, vice-president, international distribution, Yash Raj Films, which is also producing the film, says Pathaan has the widest release for any Indian film ever, going to over 100 countries, owing to SRK’s popularity with the Indian diaspora.
“SRK is amongst the biggest (most bankable) Bollywood superstars internationally and there is strong demand for Pathaan in the overseas markets,” says D’Souza.
Film distributors and exhibitors say Pathaan will release on nearly 2,500 screens in international markets.
Ashish Saksena, chief operating officer-cinemas, BookMyShow, an online ticket-booking platform, says Pathaan has crossed 1 million tickets in advance sales so far, with the Hindi version leading the charts, followed by Telugu and Tamil.
“South India has been particularly impressive, showing an upward trend, with Hyderabad, Chennai, and Bengaluru contributing nearly 30 per cent to advance sales so far,” says Saksena.
Kamal Gianchandani, chief executive officer, PVR Pictures, and president, Multiplex Association of India, says among the contributing factors to the hype around the film is the response to its trailers, teasers, and songs, as well as SRK’s fanbase.
"The film’s box-office (BO) opening could also set the tone for Republic Day (R-Day) and the crucial first weekend of the film,” says Gianchandani.
Estimates suggest that Pathaan could cross Rs 200 crore in BO collections at the end of the first weekend.
“Pathaan will have a five-day holiday run from the date of release, thanks to R-Day and the weekend. Given the excitement around the film, footfall at theatres could be high on January 26 and the weekend thereafter. I will not be surprised if BO collections breach the Rs 200-crore mark after five days,” says Komal Nahta, a Mumbai-based film trade analyst.
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