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lage raho munnabhai

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By: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Slow and steady wins the race. It happened with Munnabhai M.B.B.S. It's happened again with Lage Raho Munnabhai, the second film in the franchise.

A tepid start at the box-office is perilous. With weekend business contributing enormously to the booty, the first three days have become the most crucial phase for any and every film. And if the film carries a heavy price tag of Rs. 2 crore + [ratio per major territory], it's crucial to open with big numbers.

Contrary to the pre-release expectations, Lage Raho Munnabhai didn't open to a glorious or an earth-shattering response. In fact, the opening wasn't commensurate with the merits and tremendous appreciation for the film. The opening was 70% at places [it was best in Mumbai/Maharashtra], but in circuits like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, it was approx. 50% +.

Expectedly, the multiplexes had a slow start on Friday [30%]. That's because the settlement between Vidhu Vinod Chopra and the multiplexes happened only on Friday morning [1.30 a.m.] and the distributors didn't get ample time to publicize the fact in the morning newspapers.


But the tide started changing on Friday itself. The all-round appreciation and a strong word of mouth spread like wild fire and the evening shows started filling up, even at multiplexes. In fact, at several multiplexes, the occupancy was in the range of 95% +, which is fabulous considering the number of shows most multiplexes are conducting these days [14/16 in this case].

Day 2 [Saturday] brought in favorable news. The collections picked up throughout the country. The response to the film at multiplexes was superb, while single screens continued to behave exceedingly well. Serpentine queues were witnessed outside movieplexes and 'house full' boards [gathering dust since last two weeks] sprang up again at almost every venue.

On Day 3 [Sunday], the steady growth in business gave ample reason for everyone associated with the film to pop champagne. The film had struck a chord with the elite, the yuppie crowd, aam junta, the hoi polloi... all sections of moviegoers. In fact, I haven't come across a single person who hasn't loved the film. The business touched the zenith and the glowing feedback from moviegoers and media only strengthened its box-office status.

At Cinemax Versova [one of the best multiplexes in Mumbai], the film had approx. 80% occupancy in 16 shows on Saturday, but the management decided to increase the shows from 16 to 18 from Sunday onwards. Lo and behold, it was 100% in 18 shows on Sunday [Monday was 60% in 18 shows, while Tuesday shot up again with 80% in 18 shows]. A jump like this is a rarity!

At Indore [considered one of the vital barometers of business, after Mumbai], the film also showed a major jump as days progressed. Delhi, Kolkata, Nagpur, Pune... it's the same story. There's no stopping Lage Raho Munnabhai.

The weekdays are always crucial and a decline in collections is considered normal. The decline of 25% to 40% is no cause for worry, but a 50% + drop sends shivers across the trade. Lage Raho Munnabhai fell by approx. 25% on Monday and Tuesday, but the film continued to rock everywhere, with some shows even performing 90% +.

Businesswise, Lage Raho Munnabhai is a 'Hit' for sure. The escapades of Munna and Circuit have been given a jadoo ki jhappi by moviegoers throughout the country, thereby strengthening its position at the box-office. The transition from 'Hit' to 'Super Hit' should take place in the next few days. hai mamu!

The title is Jaane Hoga Kya, but you don't need to tax your brains to guess its fate at the box-office. With no hype surrounding the film and not much awareness amongst the paying public, the collections had to be disastrous. An also-ran product!

THIS WEEK IN 2005

[Weekend: September 2-4, 2005]

Why are most producers in a tearing hurry to release their films? Agreed, they have their reasons... But how does the common man cope with four films in a single week? He may be an avid film buff, he may be the first-day-first-show type, he may be craving to watch his fav stars on screen, but how does he take time out from his busy schedule to watch two, three or four films in a week?

This Friday witnessed the release of four films, Pyaar Mein Twist, Aashiq Banaya Aapne, Ramji Londonwale and Dansh. Obviously, the opening day business was divided. While Aashiq Banaya Aapne garnered the best opening [40%-50% +], Ramji Londonwale and Pyaar Mein Twist had to be content with a 25% + initial. As for Dansh, the opening numbers were shockingly low.

The business on Saturdays and Sundays shows an upswing during most weekends and the business of Ramji Londonwale and Pyaar Mein Twist was upbeat on these two days. Aashiq Banaya Aapne also remained afloat till Sunday, but the business of all films came sliding downwards from Monday onwards.

THIS WEEK IN 2004

[Weekend: September 3-5, 2004]

Two eerie flicks starring topnotch names hit the marquee. And both -- Rakht and Hum Kaun Hai? -- proved a nightmare for their distributors. While RAKHT at least managed a 40% to 60% opening at places, the response to Hum Kaun Hai? sent shock waves throughout the film industry. Its opening ranged from 7% to 10% at several screens.

The promotion of Rakht was quite low-key, while Hum Kaun Hai? came literally unannounced. The producers started promoting the product [Hum Kaun Hai?] barely 6-7 days before this desi version of The Others was to hit the screens. Naturally, even die-hard Bachchan fans weren't aware of this flick.

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