The Coronavirus-induced lockdown have ushered the era of ‘new normal’. As part of it, theatres shut and some of the prominent films, starring A-listers or reputed names, released directly on the streaming platforms. Once a film releases on an OTT giant, it becomes difficult to ascertain whether it has worked with audiences. The makers of these films and also the platform on which it was streamed can claim their film is a huge success but in the absence of box office numbers, anyone can claim what their heart pleases. This made us wonder – how would these films would have fared had there been no lockdown and had these films released in cinemas as scheduled?
Bollywood Hungama, in December 2020, published two articles wherein trade experts spoke about the possible box office outcomes of Dil Bechara, Lootcase, Gulabo Sitabo, Shakuntala Devi, Gunjan Saxena – The Kargil Girl, Khuda Haafiz, Sadak 2, Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare, Khaali Peeli, Laxmii and Ludo. We now do a similar hypothetical exercise for Coolie No. 1.
NOTE – The box office data presented is for India box office only
Probable Theatrical Box Office Lifetime: Rs. 75 to 80 crores
Coolie No. 1 starred Varun Dhawan and Sara Ali Khan along with talented actors like Paresh Rawal, Jaaved Jaaferi, Rajpal Yadav, Manoj Joshi, Johny Lever, Sahil Vaid and Shikha Talsania. Directed by David Dhawan, the comic caper was a remake of the 1995 film of the same name which was also helmed by the talented filmmaker. If the pandemic had not taken place, it would have been released on May 1, 2020. The trailer of the film received mixed response and this would have resulted in an opening of around Rs. 10 crore and a weekend collections amounting to Rs. 35-40 crore. The word of mouth was mostly negative and hence, a huge lifetime would have been out of question. The film thus would have settled in the Rs. 75-80 crore range, that is, in the same league as Varun’s recent films like Sui Dhaaga – Made In India (2018; Rs. 79.02 crore) and Kalank (2019; Rs. 80.35 crore). Two other factors would have also affected its performance. Firstly, it would have clashed with the Hollywood biggie Black Widow, which is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Secondly, it would have arrived in theatres during the holy month of Ramzan. It’s a time when a section of the audience stays away from cinemas and hence footfalls would have been a little less than it’s potential, at least initially.
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh is confident that Coolie No. 1 would have been a success. He says, “Due to the holiday factor, brand value and due to Varun and David Dhawan coming together, it would have got a huge initial. But later on, it would have done very well in the single screens. The film was primarily made for the single screen audiences. Agreed that single-screen cinemas do not charge high ticket prices. But the multiplexes would have contributed well in the first few days.”
The last outing of the father-son duo, Judwaa 2 (2017) was a big hit and had collected Rs. 138.61 crore at the box office. Taran Adarsh continues, “Coolie No. 1 would have crossed Rs. 100 crore mark for sure. And I feel it’s lifetime could have been in the same range as Judwaa 2. The Ramzan period could have possibly dented the earnings but it would have collected Rs. 100 crore plus for sure.”
Trade analyst Atul Mohan however disagrees, “Film samaj ke bahar thi. The original film was released 25 years ago. Woh time alag tha. People used to enjoy such fares then. When the remake was announced with Varun Dhawan in the lead, I thought it’ll have the ‘cool’ factor. Instead, it had the ‘fool’ factor! The whole film was a disappointment. I wonder kya soch ke banaya.”
Explaining the issues with the film, Atul Mohan says, “The concept of coolie has become obsolete in today’s times. Nowadays, most bags have wheels or people prefer backpacks. There are escalators installed in almost all major railway termini. So tourists pick up their own luggage to move in or out of the station. Hence, the young generation would not be acquainted with the concept of porters.”
He continues, “It seemed like the actors were half-interested in completing the film. Also, the makers didn’t even bother to upgrade the story. The story of a man pretending to have a twin was believable in 1995. In today’s digital and social media era, how can you show scenes of Varun Dhawan’s character speaking to ‘Ambani-Trump-Modi’? If he’s such a big man, wouldn't Paresh Rawal and Sara Ali Khan’s characters Googled about him? That’s the most basic thing in today’s times. Also, in the original film, Kader Khan and Karisma Kapoor’s characters were living in a far-off village. So it was still convincing that they got fooled. Here, Paresh’s character is running a luxurious resort in Goa and was educated and smart. And yet, he gets conned.”
Atul Mohan believes that Coolie No. 1 would have been a disaster at the ticket window, “The film would have wound up under Rs. 50 crore. It would have opened at Rs. 10-15 crore but then it would have crashed massively from Day 2 onwards.” He also states, “The excitement for Black Widow would have been tremendous as it’s a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It would have affected Coolie No. 1 in a big way for sure.”
Trade expert Komal Nahta also doesn’t feel that Coolie No. 1 could have been a theatrical hit. He states, “Even if it had released on Diwali, it would not have fared well. Most of the people have not liked the film. The comedy was very boring.” He also refused with the notion that it had a chance in the single screens, “The single screen audience has changed now. They are not dumb.” When asked about its possible lifetime earnings, he says, “It would have taken a decent start. It would have had a lifetime of Rs. 55-60 crore.”
Finally, Girish Johar, film trade and business analyst, tells, “Based on the Ramzan factor, clash with Black Widow and the fact that it didn’t get encouraging response from the audience, I believe it would have done anywhere in the Rs. 50-75 crores range. Audiences have become smart. They wouldn’t have accepted such content.”
Even he feels that Black Widow would have given it a tough fight. He says, “In urban areas, Black Widow would have been the preferred choice for most moviegoers. That film carries a lot of buzz and moreover, it would have been released in dubbed versions too.”
More Pages: Coolie No.1 Box Office Collection , Coolie No.1 Movie Review
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