As the competition gets tougher, Bollywood film-makers are vying for larger screen space by releasing their films in the maximum number of screens. “A lot depends upon the budget of the film, the star cast and the director in deciding the number of screens that film will be releasing in,” Mumbai-based film distributor Narendra Hirawat said.
Made at a budget of INR1.5 billion, Shahrukh Khan’s superhero flick Ra.One was released in more than 3,000 screens and Salman Khan’s blockbuster Bodyguard was released in 2,250 screens. While Delhi Belly released in 1,400 screens, another blockbuster Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD) hit 1,800 screens.
Describing the change in the movie business, Delhi-based distributor Joginder Mahajan says that unlike previous years, the fate of a film is now decided in three days. “The days of running a film for 25 weeks in a theatre are over. Today, the first three days of the film predict its fate at the box office. Even if the reviews of the film are bad but has a powerful star cast and is promoted well, it easily recovers it costs in the first three days,” Mahajan revealed.
Mahajan’s views could be supported by facts that although Bodyguard and Ra.One received mixed reviews, the films managed to recover their cost in the first three to four days. Made at an approximate budget of INR600 million, Bodyguard released on Eid and earned an estimated INR860 million in the first four days of its screening.
RA.One also recovered its cost by collecting INR1.7 billion worldwide in the opening weekend.
Mahajan also blames piracy for making the competition fierce. “In days like today, piracy is so prevalent that on the second day of the film’s release, one can get hold of the pirated version and download it online as well. Thus the fate of the film relies on its first three days,” Mahajan added.
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh admited that, “The market of films has opened up, multiplexes are increasing and film-makers are increasingly tapping into smaller cities. The business has come down to weekends; thus they plan extensive release.” He added that digitisation of cinema is also contributing towards the increasing number of screens.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2011.
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