The much awaited trailer of Akshay Kumar starrer Bellbottom is finally out and has wowed audiences. However, what has also surprised many is that the film is scheduled to release in cinemas on August 19 even though theatres are not given the permission to open in Maharashtra. The state contributes a major chunk of revenue to the domestic box office business and one wonders how the film would break even if it doesn’t get a release in Maharashtra.Trade applauds the makers of Bellbottom for releasing the film amid the pandemic; expect box office collections around Rs. 60 cr.
We decided to speak to the trade experts to get their views on this unprecedented scenario as well as the collections it could do at the box office.
Another Rs. 100 crore for Akshay Kumar
Around a month ago, when Bellbottom was scheduled to release on July 27, trade had said in a Bollywood Hungama story that the film has a chance to collect Rs. 100 crore if the film is promising and the situation is more normal. This time, the trade is divided.
Akshaye Rathi, film exhibitor and distributor, still stands by his earlier prediction and said, “I certainly feel the potential is there. The film looks damn good, there’s a lot of anticipation around it. People are also extremely keen to step out for meals, movies and for other kinds of recreation. We have seen the tremendous business of the Tamil film Master (2021) earlier this year. That was achieved despite 50% occupancy in Tamil Nadu. So I wonder what could stop Bellbottom from doing great numbers if it’s a terrific film.”
Girish Johar, producer and film business analyst, who had also predicted another century for Akshay Kumar, now stated, “It all depends on vaccination and the confidence of the audiences. You and I are would go to see the film. But whether the citizens show the same kind of excitement, whether they have the money to spend on a film ticket, whether they would feel safe, etc. remains to be seen. So it’s tricky to comment if it could do Rs. 100 crore business. Also, the SOPs differ from state to state. Most states have allowed cinemas to operate at 50% occupancy. At some states, theatres have been asked to stay shut in the weekends. Then there’s a night curfew also going on in many provinces.”
Trade analyst Atul Mohan also is on the same page, “Rs. 100 crore seems difficult. Some of Akshay Kumar’s recent releases did collect around Rs. 200 crore. But on an average, his films do a business of around Rs. 150 crore. Now with 50% occupancy, a lifetime collection in the range of Rs. 65-75 crore would be a very good number. Of course, we would pray that it crosses the Rs. 100 crore mark. If the film manages to do that in these times, then nothing like it. Fir toh trade mein dhamaka ho jaayega. Filmon ki line lag jaayegi.”
Sunny Khanna, producer, distributor and exhibitor, opined, “A film would suffer a loss of 30-40% collections minimum in these times. And if viewers feel scared or if the cases suddenly spike, then there’ll be a 50% dent in collections. Akshay Kumar’s films usually do Rs. 130-140 crore business and hence Bellbottom might collect in the range of Rs. 65-70 crores.”
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh reminded, “One doesn’t know how many screens it eventually releases. We’ll get to know in the release week. Also, we don’t know what the situation would be in that week as we are living in the times of pandemic. It releases on the 19th. A lot can change by then, for better or for the worse. And even the producers would not know.”
Minus Maharashtra, Bellbottom stands to lose a chunk of earnings
All trade experts agreed that Bellbottom stands to lose a huge chunk if it doesn’t release in Maharashtra. Girish Johar feels that 25% of business would suffer while Akshaye Rathi pegged the loss of collections at 25-30%. Sunny Khanna said, “The loss of collections due to absence of Maharashtra would be around 20%.”
Atul Mohan explained, “If Bellbottom doesn’t release in Maharashtra, then it’ll lose around 20-25% of business. To compensate for the absence of Maharashtra, maybe they can add more number of screens and shows in other parts of the country. It won’t make a big difference as the average ticket price in Mumbai is far more than what it is in other regions. So the strategy could be such that maybe it can have double the number of screens or shows than normal to make up for the loss which will be incurred due to the closure of Maharashtra.”
Sunny Khanna meanwhile remarked, “Multiplexes are very smart. They’ll somewhere accommodate the producers. Woh log producers ko revenue share badha ke denge to give an incentive to them to release it without Maharashtra.”
However trade is all praise for Vashu Bhagnani and Jaccky Bhagnani
Finally, everyone was also on the same page when it comes to praising Vashu Bhagnani and his son Jackky Bhagnani, the producers of Bellbottom. Atul Mohan said, “It’s a very good decision. They are taking a huge risk and we all hope that the gamble pays off. It’s commendable that such an expensive film is being released in such times. Instead of waiting and watching and playing safe, they have decided to make the release happen in cinemas.”
Taran Adarsh called it a “gutsy move” while Girish Johar said, “It’s a brilliant move on behalf of the industry. They along with Akshay Kumar, Vaani Kapoor, Huma Qureshi and Lara Dutta have taken the baton in their hand to unlock the cinemas. So we are quite optimistic. You need a good vision and I am really hoping that the film does well for them as well as for the fraternity. Last but not the least, I also hope that the audiences are safe when they go out to see the film.”
Akshaye Rathi complimented, “It’s a decision that has been welcomed by the entire exhibition sector. Once the negotiations about the commercial terms start, I truly hope that all of us can come up with a scenario wherein it’s a win-win situation for the entire value chain - the producer’s investment is safeguarded and they gets maximum returns possible, the distributors who bought it also stand to gain and the exhibitors aren’t made to suffer in the commercial terms. In short, we hope the film makes money for everyone involved.”
Sunny Khanna remarked, “If you start the cinemas with smaller releases, audiences would not come to theatres. Aap Roohi (2021) se audiences ko theatre mein nahi la sakte ho. You need a star like Akshay Kumar and you need to release larger-than-life films. And Bellbottom is apt in that regard. So it’s a great decision and Jackky and Vashu ji have taken a great call. They have given oxygen to the exhibitors. From the inside, even they must be scared and yet, they have taken this bold call for the industry.”
As they say, fortune favours the brave. Atul Mohan put it aptly while signing off, “Himmat-e-marda toh madad-e-khuda.”
More Pages: Bellbottom Box Office Collection , Bellbottom Movie Review
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