This Diwali proved to be a blockbuster for the Hindi film industry (Bollywood) which was reeling under the recession. Over this long weekend—four days to be precise—out of the three movies released, two movies starring Sanjay Dutt were able to report very good collections; however the third film starring Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor just managed to survive.
Blue, the underwater action movie starring Sanjay Dutt and Akshay Kumar collected over Rs19 crore across India during the weekend. The movie produced by Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision (SACV) and directed by Anthony D’Souza had a budget of almost Rs80 crore, excluding promotion cost.
All The Best, the Sanjay Dutt and Ajay Devgn starrer has also garnered Rs15 crore during the weekend while Salman and Kareena starrer Main Aur Mrs Khanna was able to collect just Rs4.2 crore. The production cost for All The Best and Main Aur Mrs Khanna was Rs40 crore, each.
"It is one of the best weekends of the year. On Sunday, we had 80%-85% occupancy for Blue and All The Best while the same for Main Aur Mrs Khanna was about 50%. In multiplexes where we have five to six screens, we are screening 10 to 12 shows for all the three movies and in other places we have been screening around eight shows," said Prakhar Joshi, head programming, PVR cinemas.
PVR which holds the distribution rights of Blue in the North and Uttar Pradesh territories, did a gross business of about Rs2.2 crore across the country. The box office collections of PVR for All The Best and Main Aur Mrs Khanna were Rs1 crore and Rs45 lakh, respectively.
"All the three films cater to different audiences and have got a mixed response. Blue has opened very well with more than 80% occupancy level across India and it should keep up till Monday night. All The Best has also reported almost 65% occupancy level and Main Aur Mrs Khanna has reported below average opening," said Shunali Shroff, head, corporate communications, Fame Multiplexes.
While Blue and All The Best are likely to continue to attract viewers, Main Aur Mrs Khanna has chosen another route. Reliance BIG TV has bought the DTH rights of Main Aur Mrs Khanna from UTV Motion Pictures and said the film will be available for viewing to its subscribers just after four days of its release, from 20th October onwards for a month on its pay-per-view channels. Subscribers of Reliance BIG TV will have to pay Rs150 between 20th to 26 October and Rs100 from 27th October onwards to view the movie.
There is an interesting tailpiece. PVR has bought the distribution rights of Blue, in an advance payment deal under which, the producers, SACV, will bear the losses in case the film fails to garner sufficient money. The exact figures of the deal are not available, but after the initial euphoria, viewers are reportedly avoiding Blue because of a weak storyline and just 20 minutes of the much publicised underwater scenes.
Earlier releases during Diwali have also proven to be box office hits. Two years ago, it was clash of two personalities, Farah Khan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali with their offerings Om Shanti Om and Saawariya, respectively. While Om Shanti Om won at the box office, Saawariya stars Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor went on to grab other interesting films.
The story in 2008 was, however was slightly different. Rohit Shetty directed Golmal Returns become a super hit overnight while Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion had to wait for some more time to set the cash registers ringing.
This Diwali, while Main Aur Mrs Khanna has taken the television route, it will be really interesting to watch the race between Blue and All The Best to see which flick emerges the real winner over the long-term.