Can we ever gauge the mood swings of the common man? No one can! Not the best of makers, not the best of distributors/exhibitors, not the best of soothsayers. Just when you thought that the tide would change for better with JOHNNY GADDAAR, the shockingly low start of the film [10%-15%] sent a chill down your spine.
Agreed, JOHNNY GADDAAR wasnâ€™t expected to fetch a flying start, but a 50% + opening was what Adlabs, its producers/distributors, and the multiplexes in general were looking at by Friday evening.
JOHNNY GADDAAR is a well-crafted thriller with some terrific moments to satiate the appetite of the multiplex junta. It has an ensemble cast, the right sensibilities, the pre-release promotion was also right, yet JOHNNY GADDAAR failed to attract ample footfalls at cineplexes.
A prominent name at Naaz [the distribution hub of Mumbai] casually mentioned to me that the audience is in no mood to frequent theatres and a spurt in business would only be witnessed when the Idd celebrations begin. May be the veteran has a point, but what about the age-old theory of a good film gathering momentum with a strong word of mouth?
A strong word -- whether positive or negative -- can make or mar the prospects. The â€˜waveâ€™ against RAMGOPAL VARMA KI AAG was so strong, so omnipotent that the film fell before it could rise. Conversely, there are hazaar instances of a slow starter gathering speed if the audience takes to its content. BHEJA FRY is a case in point.
Back to JOHNNY GADDAAR. The film did show an increase at some centres on Saturday [average] and Sunday [better], but the jump in collections was clearly missing. Itâ€™s indeed sad that the all-round praise didnâ€™t translate into glowing business.
On the other hand, DIL DOSTI ETC. was hardly talked-about, but, wonder of wonders, the film had a better start than JOHNNY GADDAAR at multiplexes. The traders in Delhi/NCR, Rajasthan and C.I. circuits I connected with on Friday noon were pleasantly surprised at its more-than-anticipated opening numbers.
Released at select multiplexes and in select shows [1/2/3 shows], DIL DOSTI ETC. did fare quite well in its opening weekend at a few big centres. What goes in its favor is its low costing, which, coupled with its fair business at select screens, should keep its makers safe.
THIS WEEK IN 2006
[Weekend: September 29-October 1, 2006]
WOH LAMHE had its share of advocates when released last Friday. The opening ranged from average [Mumbai multiplexes] to very good [Delhi multiplexes] to dull [Indore], but the strong word of mouth helped it consolidate its position as shows progressed. Starting with a humble 30%-50% + opening, the occupancy at multiplexes showed a gradual increase by evening shows.
Saturday was better [65% +] and so was Sunday [80% +]. Monday was a national holiday [Gandhi Jayanti and Dashehra] and that helped WOH LAMHE remain steady. Being a low cost film, its business at multiplexes ensured a quick recovery in some circuits, although, I personally feel, a more appropriate release period [say, post Diwali] wouldâ€™ve only helped its business prospects.
If WOH LAMHE got the benefit of a 4-day weekend, the remaining two films, JAI SANTOSHI MAA and KRISHNA [animation], were given a royal ignore by the audiences from East to West, North to South. The fate of the two devotional films, although released during the festive season, was evident on Friday itself, when both opened to shockingly low collections [5%-10%] at almost all centres.
THIS WEEK IN 2005
[Weekend: September 30-October 2, 2005]
Six releases in one week: MAINE GANDHI KO NAHIN MARA, SISKIYAAN, KASAK, SAUDA - THE DEAL, RAIN and VISHWAS. If one estimates the total money riding on these films [including print cost and promotion], approx. Rs. 13 crores were at stake this Friday. But looking at the disastrous start all films embarked upon at the box-office, youâ€™d agree that something was wrong somewhere.
The business of all films, whether old or new, touches rock bottom in the pre-Diwali weeks and 2005 was no exception. The collections of a few films were in hundreds [not thousands] at some centres on Friday and Saturday. Just imagine!
THIS WEEK IN 2004
[Weekend: October 1-3, 2004]
The pre-Diwali weeks were playing havoc, with the occupancy at most movieplexes falling to 20%. TAUBA TAUBA, AK 47, POPCORN KHAO! MAST HO JAO and SATYA BOL hit the screens in the first week of October. TAUBA TAUBA did manage an encouraging opening at several places and this reasonably-priced film proved a profitable venture for its distributors.
As for POPCORN KHAO! MAST HO JAO, its fate was evident on the day of its release. SATYA BOL won critical acclaim, but that didnâ€™t translate into big collections. As for AK 47, it was targeted at small centres mainly.