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It is Diwali dhamaka at the box office

Between Shah Rukh Khan's much-publicized Ra.One and two other big releases down South - Suriya's 7aum Arivu and Vijay's Velayudham - it's going to be a cracker of a Diwali at the Indian box office.

Anand J        Last Updated: October 25, 2011  | 17:10 IST

Between Shah Rukh Khan's much-publicized Ra.One and two other big releases down South - Suriya's 7aum Arivu and Vijay's *Velayudham - it's going to be a cracker of a Diwali at the Indian box office. Box office and distributor community sources indicate that with these three releases, Indian box office counter is estimated to rake in Rs 50 crore across the country on Diwali day (October 26).

Ra.One overdose...has paid off!

SRK's Ra.One is releasing across 4,600 screens worldwide of which 3,500 screens are in India. In comparison, Salman Khan's Bodyguard was released across 2,700 screens and collected Rs 22 crore net on day one and Rs 85 crore net on the extended five-day weekend. Business Today spoke to a cross section of the industry to understand the impact these releases could have on the box office.

Ashish Saksena, Chief Operating Officer of BIG Cinemas (West and South) says, "The tickets for Wednesday and Thursday are almost sold out with two days to go for Ra.One's release. Ra.One is going to break all first day, first weekend and first week records at the domestic box office."

Sunil Punjabi, CEO, Cinemax says: "This is going to be one of the biggest releases that any Indian cinema has seen so far. We have so far sold about 18,000 tickets of which 60 per cent are 3D tickets and 40 per cent are 2D tickets." While Big Cinemas has booked 80 per cent of its total screens for Ra.One, Cinemax has 95 per cent of its screens booked for the film. 

SRK's superhero power: Turning 'Ra.One' to marketing gold

As against this, Bodyguard was released on 70 per cent of its screens. Going by the way SRK and Eros have marketed and promoted Ra.One, the film is estimated to earn around Rs 125 crore in the first week from domestic theatres.

Film trade sources reveal that with almost 25 per cent more screens, Ra.One will be the first film to cross Rs 25 crore on day one at the domestic box office, despite being a Diwali day. Of the 3,500 screens, 500 screens have been set aside for Ra.One's 3D release. 3D tickets are priced Rs 30 more than the 2D tickets, thereby making it easier for Ra.One to cross the Rs 25 crore mark. Analysts tracking the film sector say that Ra.One needs to do over 60 crore at box office for the film to be profitable. The film is estimated to yield Rs 100 crore in its extended five-day weekend and Rs 125 crore over the next nine days.

But for SRK, the overseas market is still by far the biggest and is estimated to fetch approximately a total of Rs 60 crore even if the movie does not go down too well with the overseas audiences. His last release, My Name Is Khan, released almost two years ago, collected around Rs100 crore in overseas markets. In Germany, where SRK has a big fan following, Ra.One will be released across 600 screens with sub-titles. The film is also releasing in South Korea and Taiwan across 200 and 25 screens, respectively.

The cost of making the film has been approximately Rs 150 crore, which includes print and marketing costs. Producers Eros International and Red Chillies Entertainment (SRK's company) have already recovered up to Rs 102 crore through the sale of cable & satellite rights (Rs 35 crore), music rights (Rs 15 crore) and brand tie-ups (Rs 52 crore).
 
Ra.One has tied up with 25 brands - one of the biggest ever marketing blitzkrieg for any Indian film. Kamal Jain, Chief Financial Officer of Eros International says: "Most of the marketing cost was borne by the brands which are associated with the movie." Eros is also distributing the film worldwide.

Ra.One will release in dubbed versions in Telugu and Tamil and is releasing in 250 screens across the South. Bodyguard grossed almost Rs 10 crore from the South. With dubbed versions and a much wider release, Ra.One, according to Eros, should bring in at least double of what Bodyguard did. With superstar Rajinikanth doing a cameo in Ra.One, the film offers an added attraction to the viewers in the South. Bodyguard was a Southern remake and the Southern audiences had already seen the original version.

Thanks to the digital screens, the distributors are able to go in for wider releases every time a big movie comes out. Bodyguard was the first film to cross 1,000 UFO digital screens, a digital screen provider. Ra.One is likely to hit the 1,300-plus mark. A lot of the initial business expansion has been helped by UFO screens. It was only five years ago that a blockbuster like Krrish was released in 85 UFO digital screens.

Down South, Suriya's 7aum Arivu will release in around 1,000 prints worldwide and 400 prints in Tamil Nadu. Though there are no straight Telugu releases this Diwali in Andhra Pradesh, Red Giant Movies' 7th sense - the dubbed Telugu version of 7am Arivu - will have the second largest release in Andhra Pradesh for a dubbed film, after Rajinikanth's Robot, by releasing in 400 screens. The film, directed by AR Murugadoss of Ghajini fame, is reported to have cost Rs 85 crore in making it. Giving him close competition is Vijay's Velayudham, co-produced and distributed by Eros International, which is also releasing as big as 7aum Arivu.

Both these films are together expected to yield more than Rs 50 crore from the Southern states in the extended five-day weekend. According to newspaper reports, all the shows starting from Wednesday till Sunday were sold out within the first few hours of the advance booking. (Box office numbers from boxofficeindia.com)

*An earlier version of this story misspelled Velayudham as Velayutham.  We regret the error.

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