Three releases have hit the jackpot recently in terms of collections at the box office: Satyagraha, Chennai Express and Madras Cafe. Director Prakash Jha’s Satyagraha, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgn, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Arjun Rampal was received well at the box office. Made on a budget of approximately Rs. 50 crore, the film has managed to collect Rs 39.12 crore net in its opening weekend. The film fared better in single screens, with 90 - 100 per cent occupancy, while it was restricted to 60 - 70 per cent occupancy in the multiplexes.
According to trade analyst Amod Mehra, Satyagraha is doing well in places like Patna in Bihar and a few metropolitan cities, but the film may not sustain for a long time. “Satyagraha has nothing new to offer and its length only adds to the woes. A lot of people expected to see glimpses of the anti-corruption movement, but the film has failed to match up to expectations,” stated Mehra.
The first weekend saw a full house at single screens like Maratha Mandir and Chitra in Mumbai. “It is a star-studded film, which was one reason why people flocked to the theatre. At Chitra, the weekend occupancy of the film was close to 85 per cent in the three shows. But it looks like there will be a drop in the numbers this week,” stated Rakesh Sippy, Proprietor, Raksha Exhibitors. Manoj Desai - Executive Director G7, also believes that the future of the film looks bleak. “With four shows at G7, Satyagraha saw an occupancy of 70 - 80 per cent on Saturday and Sunday, which is not bad. But with a repetitive story and zero novelty factor, it doesn’t look like the film will continue to do well. As the film is made on a high budget, it will be difficult to recover the costs,” said Desai. Mehra adds, “Although the opening has been decent, a lot depends on the word-of-mouth publicity that Satyagraha gets and the weekend figures are not enough to earn profit for the makers. The weekday collections will prove to be an acid test for Satyagraha.”
The Bachchan effect
According to Desai, it is Amitabh Bachchan’s charisma and the curiosity behind the film’s story that pulled people to the theatres. “The magic of Mr Bachchan cannot be ignored. It won’t be wrong to say that the film is only riding on his appeal.”
Satyagraha started well in international markets like Australia, UK, USA, Canada, UAE and Pakistan. According to figures quoted by Bollywood Hungama till last Saturday, the film has collected $ 62, 378 in Australia and $ 41,932 in UK.
Last week’s release Madras Cafe continues to do decent business, with 40 per cent weekend occupancy. According to Bollywood Hungama, the film has collected close to Rs.7 crore nett in the second weekend, bringing the grand total to Rs.40.71- Rs.41.01 crore nett. Well in its fourth week, Chennai Express is still going strong with 40 per cent occupancy in most multiplexes.
International films like Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters and Mortal Instruments - City of Bones failed to impress the audience, while the Jennifer Aniston - Jason Sudeiks-starrer We’re The Millers is getting decent footfall in multiplexes.
In the Screen issue dated August 30-September 5, 2013, we had predicted that since the film deals with a serious subject, the film will get an average start in the first week, despite the stellar star cast. The prediction came true, as the film opened to mixed responses, with decent occupancies in multiplexes and single screen. We also mentioned that the film’s future depends on the kind of word-of-mouth publicity the film gets. Our view was echoed by the trade analysts.
By Priya Adivarekar