The box office clash between Shah Rukh Khan’s untitled film and Akshay Kumar’s Toilet Ek Prem Katha (Toilet:EPK) will be the talking point for the next few months.
On paper, it looks one-sided. The untitled romantic film has a much bigger star cast with one of the biggest crowd-pullers in the industry (SRK), one of the most popular female stars (Anushka Sharma), well-known director (Imtiaz Ali), big budget and the music is expected to be a strong point too (Imtiaz-Pritam).
With Toilet:EPK, Akshay is the only known face. The female lead has appeared in one film (Dum Laga Ke Haisha) and editor-turned-director Shree Narayan Singh directed 2012’s Yeh Jo Mohabbat Hai which noone watched.
Yet, it’ll be the SRK-Imtiaz film that has all to lose and very little to gain – because business will now be divided between two films and the biggie won’t be able to take full advantage of the 5-day extended weekend.
For ‘Toilet:EPK’, the calculated risk that the makers have taken could prove to be a tactical masterstroke.
- Medium budget: Much like ‘Rustom’ last year, Toilet:EPK has been made on a controlled budget. Recovery will not be difficult if it turns out to be a well-made film. The fact that the makers are willing to take on a big-film, could also be an indication that they are confident of the film they’ve made.
- Ramzan release averted: Toilet:EPK was previously scheduled to release three weeks before ‘Tubelight’ and a week before ‘Raabta’. There was very little breathing space for a content-driven film to grow and perform. More so since the audience is known to save-up money for a event Salman Khan film during EID. The Ramzan period, when the muslim section of the audience do not come out to watch films, has been avoided too.
- GST: The ‘Goods and Service Tax’ will come into effect from July 1 2017. It’s expected to bring down the all-India entertainment tax levels, so Toilet:EPK will benefit from this as compared to June 2 release.
- Clash-publicity: We have seen in the past that clashes can prove to be beneficial, especially for the smaller film. Both films will get almost equal media coverage.
- Swacch Bharat: Toilet:EPK is based on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan, which is a popular social cause amongst the youth. It’s most talked about during the Independence Day period. The film could also get tax-exemption, which will give its business a big boost.
From SRK’s point of view, there are very few positives. It was one of the biggest weekends of the year. A solo release would’ve probably meant 125 crore plus in the first 5-day weekend itself. But now with screens and shows divided between two major films, the release circumstances will be very similar to the ‘Raees vs Kaabil’ clash.
The SRK-Imtiaz film will comprehensively win the first day and weekend, but since it’s a big film, it has to perform at a much high level throughout to become SRK’s first clean hit in nearly 3 years.