With the surprising developments that have happened over the past few days, the prospects of UTV Motion Pictures’ ‘Chennai Express’ at the ticket window have suddenly brightened up manifolds. Let us analyze the whole situation in detail:
The Trend: Blocking release dates in advance has become a hot trend in the last 3 years or so. Even before the start of 2013, all the major release dates of the year were already booked by ambitious film-makers. Republic Day (Race 2), First weekend after IPL (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewaani), Eid (Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Dobara), Gandhi Jayanti (Besharam), Diwali (Krrish 3) and Christmas (Dhoom 3) were announced well in advance.
SRK and Chennai Express: This left SRK’s ‘Chennai Express’ with 2 options – Either release on a non-holiday week or clash with any one of the biggies mentioned above. Any movie starring Shahrukh Khan has always been hot in the trade and is much awaited by his fans worldwide. Contrary to his last 3 releases, SRK has consciously maintained a low key profile as far as the release of ‘Chennai Express’ is concerned. Mega Release Dates for Ra.One (Diwali 2011), Don 2 (Christmas 2011) and Jab Tak Hai Jaan (Diwali 2012) were announced well in advance amidst much fanfare. Although all the 3 movies crossed 100 crores at the domestic box office, the results were not up to the standards set by King Khan himself over the past 20+ years.
Overall Impact on Trade: A clash is definitely not a wise option in the current scenario where a movie’s verdict is decided in the first weekend itself. Yes, ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ and ‘Son of Sardaar’ released on the same day last year and both films did reasonably good business, but they could surely have earned much more as solo releases. The situation today cannot be compared with the times of ‘Dil vs Ghayal’, ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai vs Bade Miyan Chote Miyan’ or ‘Gadar vs Lagaan’. Hence OUATIMD makers sensibly decided in favor of everyone’s (makers, distributors, exhibitors) interest and moved their film one week forward to an Independence Day release.
Is blocking a release date required? Well partially yes, but depends on the movie. Let me illustrate this by taking examples of 2014 forthcoming bookings. Now, when a Chetan Bhagat tweets that ‘Kick’ will release on Eid 2014 or a Karan Johar tweets that ‘Shuddhi’ will come on Diwali, 2014 – it does make sense as these mass movies are eagerly awaited by all sections of the trade. Any filmmaker will have to think several times before planning a clash with the movies that are awaited worldwide. But when we hear that Christmas 2014 is blocked by Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Bombay Velvet’ or Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Bajirao Mastani’, it definitely comes as interesting news. Can they manage a wide enough release if Rajkumar Hirani’s ‘P.K.’ or Farah Khan’s ‘Happy New Year’ decide the release their film on the same day, just months in advance?
All I would say is the old saying ‘Might is Right’ holds true everywhere and if your movie has the capability to attract maximum screens worldwide, then you should have the full authority of a release date. ‘First Come First Serve’ is not the order of the day and the last-minute decision to postpone OUATIMD, even though it was announced a year in advance, proves just that.
I would love to read your views on this in the comments section below. Do bring them on!