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Dry Weekends, Dismal Weekdays

Courtesy: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM

Sunday morning, a prominent film-maker sounded extremely troubled as we discussed the opening numbers of the two new releases, Holiday and Mixed Doubles. With a plethora of films hitting the marquee, coupled with the exorbitant ticket rates, the film-maker was of the opinion that the common man was finding it increasingly difficult to venture into a movieplex week after week. "The moviegoer of today has become extremely choosy due to this reason," he lamented.

I agree, the uninspiring opening numbers of Holiday could give anyone a shudder. A majority of medium-budget films produced by the Bhatts not only fetched an encouraging start, but also worked big time at the box-office. But Holiday proved an exception. What factors must've contributed to the thanda response? The not-as-inspiring star cast? The far-from-exciting promos? The dull pre-release buzz?

So many theories crop up the moment a film falls. If the cast was the sole deciding factor, then Shikhar, Family and Zinda should've embarked on a record-breaking start. Also, haven't the Bhatts delivered hits without banking on big names? Let's face it, stars do contribute to the opening, but not in entirety. It's the project in totality that matters.

The reason why Holiday didn't work, as I see it, is because the promos didn't really excite the viewer to rush to the nearby theatre. Besides, the word of mouth, after the first show ended, wasn't positive at all. Word of mouth can change the fortunes of any film these days. The negative reports can lead to doom, while the positive feedback could lead to multiplication of numbers even before Day 1 ends.

Holiday had a dull weekend and was extremely poor on weekdays. In fact, in certain shows, the occupancy was as low as 5%, which could give any distributor sleepless nights.

The second release, Mixed Doubles, came literally unannounced. A multiplex film basically, the irony was even the multiplex crowd was unaware of its identity and arrival. The film was low, in fact very low on hype and that reflected in its business. The collections were better in the evening shows on weekends, but the overall business is below the mark.

Mixed Doubles may boast of a new concept [not entirely new, since Ajnabee and Fun - Can be Dangerous Sometimes have tackled the theme earlier], but the film didn't even feature in the 'must watch' list of the elite/gentry/multiplex crowd that frequents such movies. The non-happening verdict of those who watched it further sealed its prospects.

[Weekend: February 11-13, 2005]

How times change! After the success of Murder, Hawas, Girl Friend, Julie and Tauba Tauba, sex-based themes were considered 'safe' at the box-office. But the bubble has burst!

Post-Kis Kis Ki Kismat [Mallika Sherawat] and Naach [Antra Mali], that had skin show in abundance but failed to entice the cinegoers from Day 1, the producers suddenly woke up to reality. And with Sheesha and Chaahat - Ek Nasha, the two new releases, failing to fetch a face-saving start, the film industry, especially those who had tremendous confidence on this genre, found themselves in a quandary.

Both Sheesha and Chaahat - Ek Nasha opened to poor numbers. The opening of Sheesha did come as a surprise primarily because the film was sold at fancy prices on the basis of its eye-catching promos. Also, the distributors were optimistic that this Neha Dhupia starrer would take a flying start, just the way Julie did.

On the other hand, Chaahat - Ek Nasha was more of an emotional film that had its share of titillation, but the makers preferred to publicize it as a sex-loaded flick. The new, bindaas look of Preeti Jhangiani loomed large on the posters of Chaahat - Ek Nasha, but its fate was worse than Sheesha at the box-office.

The third release, Hum Dum, was targeted at the multiplex crowd and also boasted of a refreshingly different theme. Despite its sudden release, the film had a comparatively better opening than the two releases of the week. Released at a few multiplexes [in limited shows], the collections of the film were steady, but a heavy push in terms of promotion was the need of the hour.

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