With the exception of a few comic book fans, few people would have queued up at cinema halls to watch an R-rated superhero flick like Deadpool. Surprisingly, the opposite seems to have happened, thanks to its offbeat promotional campaign and an increasingly popular lead character.
Marvel’s favourite anti-hero has bested Bollywood hits like Sanam Teri Kasam and Fitoor, having the highest-grossing weekend opening for an adult genre film in Pakistan — a fact confirmed by Hammad Chaudhry, the chairman of HKC Entertainment. “The film [Deadpool] has taken an exceptional start in Pakistan,” shared Chaudhry, speaking to The Express Tribune. “It has recorded the highest grossing weekend for any Hollywood film in the adult genre within the country.”
Owing to this overwhelming response, cinema owners across Pakistan have been compelled to host more late night shows to accommodate audiences. Karachi’s Nueplex Cinemas, for instance, added a 5am show for the movie. Managing director of Mandviwalla Entertainment, Nadeem Mandviwalla, stated that while Fitoor may have grossed more than Deadpool at Atrium Cinemas, the latter’s occupancy and shares per screen were far greater. “Fitoor ran at nearly 67% occupancy during the weekend, with its box office totals nearing Rs1.6 million [at Atrium cinemas alone]. Deadpool, on the other hand was shown on fewer screens and grossed Rs0.9 million approximately,” he shared. “It is going strong at 97% occupancy.”
Fitoor — directed by Abhishek Kapoor — received mixed reviews during its opening weekend despite boasting Katrina Kaif, Aditya Roy Kapur and Tabu in its lead roles. According to an official of IMGC Entertainment, the movie only managed to earn Rs19 million during its first three days; a modest amount considering the hype surrounding its release. The official also attributed its below-par performance to the ongoing Pakistan Super League. “There were double-headers on both Saturday and Sunday which have affected the movie’s performance in cinemas,” he explained. Cinema owners, on the other hand, claimed that the film saw an impressive opening on Friday but was unable to sustain it over the next two days, partly due to the “slow pace” of its storyline.
The disappointing state of affairs was witnessed at single screen cinemas as well. Farrukh Rauf, director of Capri Cinemas, highlighted how Fitoor had been outshined by another Bollywood film, Sanam Re, during its opening weekend. “Surprisingly, Sanam Re has been doing better than Fitoor so we might be giving the former more shows during the course of this week,” he noted. Deadpool’s worldwide gross now stands at $135 million, making it the best opening weekend for an R-rated film, according to The Verge. In comparison to this, the box office for Fitoor, in India alone, adds up to Rs76.1 million after its first two days, stated koimoi.com.
Fitoor was not the only major film release to have tanked during the last 10 days. Mawra Hocane’s Sanam Teri Kasam was also unable to draw audiences out to the theatres. It was released in over 60 cinemas across the country but its shows have already been reduced on account of its underwhelming performance. The romantic drama has managed to gross Rs20 million only, thus far, and is expected to breathe its last at around Rs20.05 million. Cinema owners believe that is quite modest, as the movie is still running at an occupancy of 68% to 70%.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2016.