There are two ways to look at the box office opening response to Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’. One, after weeks of empty theatres and news of shows getting cancelled on Friday morning, the audience has finally come out to watch the ‘first day first show’. So amidst the gloom, there is some hope that a film might put up good numbers on Day 1 and over the weekend.
However, the opening is nowhere close to the kind of initials that we have come to expect from a Shah Rukh Khan starrer. It’s lower than FAN (partial holiday), Raees (clash) and almost all other SRK films in the last several years.
Multiplexes in major cities have opened well, some recording 40% opening in the morning and growing to 50% in the noon. But as we get to smaller centres – even the next 10 odd cities after the major metros – the occupancy level drops drastically.
The problem seems to be the treatment and choice of film itself, as we have a major superstar in a urban film. It’s a film that would’ve released on 2000-2200 screens with someone like a Ranbir Kapoor (Tamasha, for example), but gets 3000 plus screen release due to SRK’s presence. A film that would otherwise be a complete washout at smaller centres, has opened to around 20% occupancy. Exhibitors in the interiors and heartland of the country are certainly disappointed, but it’s the choice of film that is to be blamed and not the star’s box office pull.
The level of opening on Friday morning suggests a 15-16 crore start. The film needs to grow from here, the trend has to be upward through the weekend and then on the Monday-holiday. Because given the costs and the level of opening, ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ has now become a word-of-mouth film.
It needs a 60 crore plus 3-day weekend, a strong Monday and then the crucial first weekday test on Tuesday. If it slips anywhere in these first 5 days, the writing will be on the wall – more so with ‘Toilet Ek Prem Katha’ releasing next Friday.