The first weeks are all what films have these days as determinant of their fate to be written in books of cinema history. Final collections do matter, but this first week is what usually tells us where the film is steering towards. Why don’t we just call it the ‘Death Week’, if u cross it successfully, and by successfully it means still having at least three to four shows at most cinemas as the second week starts, you go winning big overall, and if you don’t, you end up being…well, that’s pretty understandable with all that ‘Death Week’ concept.
Now, as the films releasing on this year’s Eid-ul-Fitr have already crossed (remember we used the word ‘crossed’, not ‘passed’) their ‘Death Week’, we have their collection reports, occupancy trends, and in one case a background report too.
Although we are a Pakistani film-promoting website/blog, and wished as hard as one could for this Eid to see only Pakistani films releasing at Pakistani cinemas, but quite regretfully, due to some last minute intra-industry manoeuvrings, we saw the advent of Shahruk Khan-Deepika Padukone starrer Indian film, Chennai Express, in the Eid linings as Humayun Saeed’s big budgeted Main Hoon Shahid Afridi withdrew itself from a promised mega festival release. Thus, willingly or unwillingly, we will start with reporting on Chennai Express first.
Let’s start with a little description on the winning formula in Bollywood. Anyone from Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Salman Khan, Deepika Padukone, Vidya Balan, Kareena Kapoor, Ranbeer Kapoor and let’s just include Aamir Khan too; in the cast, with any director from Karan Johar, Rohit Shetty, Rajkumar Hirani and Sajid Khan, with usually a sloppy script and story, a hot item number, a little role of a porn star or desi Kim Kardashian–like characters in the movie, and Bam! 100 crores.
Now if not all, then at least with most of these factors there in Chennai Express, you cannot expect anything different as far as the box office result of the film is concerned. The film in its Death Week run on Pakistani cinemas earned more than PKR. 50 million (5 crores) to its overall fast moving numbers. According to one source, somewhere near the figure of PKR. 51,500,000. The film opened to mostly housefuls with screens at some places booked for all three Eid Days. The ‘Occupancy rate’ in its second week has come down a bit though, to around 80% on average. One thing that played in advantage to this film was its unrestricted market; it was played on single screen cinemas with the same enthusiasm as on multiplexes. Scoring most shows in most multiplexes in its second week too, it is still hot favourite amongst most Pakistani moviegoers.
Shaan, Saima, Ahsan Khan, Wiam Dahmani and Meera starrer Punjabi film Ishq Khuda was Pakistan’s strongest guard against the Indian film on three Eid Days. Doing a business of about PKR. 12 million (1crore 20lacs) in its first week, the film has come out to be a sort of mass favourite in Punjab film circuit. A little ambiguity is there though in figures with a different source, a more official and authentic one, giving us the figure of PKR. 75 lacs as its weekend collection, and PKR. 1 crore as its five day business, making it reach the 10.7 million mark hardly. Hardly because the film is not being played in national circuit with as much shows as it was previously. Thus, on official basis, it would be safe to report the weekly figures standing somewhere around 11.35 million (1crore, 13lac, 50thousand). The film was highly received at single screen cinemas, running several housefuls at Metropole Cinema in Lahore. Its overall occupancy rate on other places wasn’t bad at all either. However, Karachi wasn’t just the right place for the film. It did receive some audience at city’s single screen cinemas, but didn’t do well in multiplexes. A representative from Karachi’s Atrium Cinema told us that film was ‘not performing at par with its pre-release expectations’. Contradicting that statement, the cinema website on 16th August 2013 showed a ‘sold out’ message in front of film’s sole 5:45 show, the tag after few hours was removed though. Whatever the case maybe, the film, as mentioned earlier, is still a success at single screen cinemas with 75% occupancy rate on average— around 15% at multiplexes.
Pakistan’s second Eid release was Aamina Sheikh and Mohib Mirza starrer Josh. Performing almost as per expectations, the film grossed around 55 lacs in its first week. The film is being run with varying trends from city to city with Lahore turning out to be least responsive city to the film as our editor there, Momin Ali Munshi, reported the occupancy rate of the film around 15% to 20% as its second week starts. The biggest contribution to the film business can easily be credited to the city of Karachi. The situation for Josh isn’t much different to that of Ishq Khuda’s for second week with mostly one show runs in majority cinemas. The film as per our estimates will be able to gross around maximum 70 lacs in total. This is so because of a little background here in film’s earning. If you remember, the film has been run to several independent screenings abroad, and a source of ours told us that those screenings were all paid with ticket on average varying from $ 20-25. Thus, even if 500 people watched the movie in total, we can easily add around PKR. 10, 00,000 into film’s overall business. Let’s just hope it does well for everyone involved.
As per the take of our cinema industry on local Eid releases, the last moment Chennai Express addition to the Eid line wasn’t that bad after all. In a statement to us, the Atrium cinema representative said, “The situation at times played just like the way it did when Body Guard, Love Mein Ghum and Bhai Log got released few Eids back. People primarily came to watch Chennai Express, but when they couldn’t get seats there, they settled for the two Pakistani releases, giving them the occupancy rate of almost 80% to 85% too.”
Well, we still hope the Indian film hadn’t come and Main Hoon Shahid Afridi would have gone on to be played alongside other Pakistani Eid releases. But things always happen for a reason, and in this case you know the reason well.