Come April and not only does the mercury shoot up, even film business starts projecting an upward trend. While the first three months have witnessed approx. 95% flops, you earnestly prayed that the summer phase would boost the morale of the industry. The general feeling within the industry is that things begin to brighten from April onwards. And there are valid reasons to support this viewpoint…
- With school/college exams getting over in April, the youth makes a beeline for movieplexes in large numbers. The occupancy, therefore, shows a rise.
- Summer vacations [April-June] are amongst the productive periods to release films. That explains why one sees a plethora of films -- big and small -- vying for audience attention.
But the first week of April this year didn't set the cash registers jingling. The two diverse films -- SHAKALAKA BOOM BOOM and PROVOKED -- have met with the same fate in the domestic market.
The pre-release buzz of SHAKALAKA BOOM BOOM was pretty strong and its catchy music [Himesh Reshammiya] and attractive promos were expected to attract the youngsters in hordes. The opening was fairly good at several multiplexes, but dull at single screens. More specifically, the opening was better in Mumbai and North multiplexes, but slippery at most centres.
The word of mouth tilted towards ordinary/negative and that explains why the film remained steady on Saturday and Sunday, but had a rapid fall from Monday onwards. SHAKALAKA BOOM BOOM is better than several films that hit the marquee in the recent past, but, for some reason, the film couldn't do the trick.
For Suneel Darshan, who has distributed the film globally himself, it's a wait-n-watch situation since it's too early to comment whether he'd be able to break-even or lose a part of his investment.
PROVOKED, on the other hand, was much in news prior to its release, but the hype and hoopla didn't translate into a favorable opening at the ticket window. The start was dull and it remained on the lower side as days progressed. In fact, when the select media watched the film almost a year ago at the I.I.F.A. Awards at Dubai, I distinctly remember the general feedback ranged from ordinary to poor.
But let's not lose hope. The weeks ahead look motivating enough and there's a strong possibility that the numbers might escalate with the arrival of several biggies. Umeed pe duniya kaayam hain!
THIS WEEK IN 2006
[Weekend: April 7-9, 2006]
The low-key response to two of the three films that opened last Friday [April 7] caught a number of industrymen by surprise. In fact, barring SHAADI SE PEHLE [good first week billing in Mumbai, Delhi-U.P., Rajasthan], the other new releases, BANARAS and SAAWAN, generated less heat, finding it difficult to stand on their feet in the opening weekend itself.
SHAADI SE PEHLE had a poor start on Thursday [Ram Navmi]. In fact, the opening day figures of this Subhash Ghai-produced laughathon were in the range of 20% +, although a few centres reported a much lower audience turnout. But things improved on Friday and the collections stabilized on Saturday and Sunday, in some pockets. Monday was dull, but the holiday on Tuesday helped to an extent.
One of the prime reasons why BANARAS went unnoticed was because the promos didn't generate any heat prior to its release. Also, a title like BANARAS - A MYSTIC LOVE STORY has its limitations. However, I must add that in terms of audience feedback, BANARAS enjoyed better reports amongst the three releases, but it caters to a tiny segment of viewers and hence, such poor business everywhere.
The third release, SAAWAN, took a better start in the Hindi belt [40% +] because of the star presence of Salman Khan. But the audience reports were outright negative; consequently, the film went downhill from Day 2 itself. In fact, the moviegoers felt cheated that Salman was plastered on all posters/hoardings when the fact remains that he arrives slightly before the intermission and appears in parts towards the second hour.
THIS WEEK IN 2005
[Weekend: April 8-10, 2005]
The much-awaited season of biggies commenced with LUCKY and in an otherwise arid movie-going scenario, the film notched a fabulous start everywhere. After a long, long time, serpentine queues were witnessed outside both single screens and multiplexes. After weeks of no-show, the 'House Full' boards sprang up at the entrance of cinema halls, which, frankly speaking, was a rarity.
Promotion also played a crucial role in creating tremendous excitement for LUCKY. The quality and quantity of promos were both splendid. Besides, T-Series, the masters in promotion, left no stone unturned in not just making the film, but releasing it with the hype it deserved.
LUCKY performed exceptionally well during its first weekend. The film had a wide release and most multiplexes performed six/seven shows every day, garnering superb collections all over. With a fabulous start on hand, half the battle was won. The collections did totter on Monday and Tuesday [Indo-Pak cricket match], but given the magnificent start of the film, it proved a plus proposal for its investors eventually.
THIS WEEK IN 2004
[Weekend: April 2-4, 2004]
MURDER proved to be the first universal success of 2004. Like JISM, the film talks of adultery, how a married woman cheats on her husband. If Pooja Bhatt produced JISM, MURDER was produced by her chacha Mukesh Bhatt.
- The flying start of MURDER indicated that the combination of a captivating story and generous doses of sex could work big time at the b.o.
- The superb start of MURDER also indicated that you don't need to bank on stars to sell the film to distributors first and audiences later.
- The audience reaction to MURDER also proved that SEX sells.
Ironically, the two desi versions of UNFAITHFUL, released in two consecutive weeks, have brought respite for a hungry-for-hits industry. Last week's HAWAS and this week's MURDER set the cash registers jingling and one was equally optimistic about MASTI, a sex comedy [coincidentally, this one also talks of extra-marital affairs], improving the scenario for the better.