KARACHI: Since the release of the action film Bodyguard in 2011, Salman Khan has established a near invincible dominance over the Eidul Fitr weekends. With each of his releases out-grossing the previous one, it is no surprise that Bollywood’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan has become somewhat synonymous with the festive weekend. His latest outing, Sultan, appears to be no different from the rest of the pack with the movie on course for a record-breaking opening weekend. Interestingly so, it has taken the film only two days to eclipse the opening weekend record set by Jawani Phir Nahi Ani (JPNA) on Eidul Azha last year.
Sultan grossed Rs76 million on the first two days and an approximately Rs40 million on the third day of Eid. This brings Sultan’s Eidul-Fitr gross in the range of Rs110 million, nearly Rs35.5 million more than the second best — JPNA. Corroborating the figures to The Express Tribune an official of Geo Films, the local distributor of Sultan, stated the film was likely to touch the coveted Rs150 million mark in its opening weekend. “One advantage Sultan had over previous films was that it was released over a five-day weekend because of Eid holidays,” he shared. “And with tickets for the first five days of screening already being sold in advance Sultan can be expected to cross Rs150 million by Sunday night.”
Released on July 6, the first day of Eid, Sultan earned approximately Rs35 million and Rs41 million on its first and second day respectively. The opening day collections are nearly twice as much when compared to JPNA’s Rs20.7 million. While Sultan continues to enjoy a healthy run in Pakistani cinemas, other international and domestic releases have not fared so well at the local box office.
Two of the major casualties of Sultan’s onslaught were Pixar’s animated film, Finding Dory, and the Pakistani heist-film Sawaal 700 Crore Dollar Ka. With exhibitors showing a preference to screen Sultan, both of the other movies were released on a limited number of screens. Unlike Sultan which was released on 75 screens, Finding Dory was shown in only 15 cinemas (25-30 screens) with its box office collections amounting to Rs3 million after the first two days.
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Finding Dory’s digits in Pakistani cinemas seem very pale in comparison to its box office performance in North America. “It was always going to be difficult for any film to compete with a movie like Sultan,” stated an official of IMGC Entertainment, requesting anonymity. “But what people need to understand is that Finding Dory was released on a limited number of screens so in my opinion it has done reasonably well.”
Despite the slow start the local distributors of Finding Dory remained optimistic about the movie’s future prospects. “I think it will gradually pick up after Eid and it will earn over Rs10 million in its lifetime,” the official added. Sawaal 700 Crore Dollar Ka, on the other hand, is expected to have its life in Pakistani cinemas cut short owing to the poor response. Earning only Rs3 million the movie is expected to be taken down from cinemas right after Eid with distributors citing low-turnout and underwhelming audience response as a major factor.
It is pertinent to note that while Sultan has thrashed JPNA’s opening weekend box office record it is still a long way from the latter’s lifetime gross in local cinemas. Released on approximately 80 screens JPNA earned Rs46.5 million during its run.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2016.
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