Dilwale-Bajirao clash at box office hurts both

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Shah Rukh Khan’s Dilwale has done better than Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani in the opening weekend of what is being described as the biggest box-office clash of the year. However, a closer look reveals both the movies lost a part of their business due to the same-day launch. While Dilwale earned Rs 65 crore (net after tax), Bajirao Mastani made Rs 46 crore. Considering that both the movies have some of India’s biggest stars, it can be easily said that collection would have been better if the two films were released separately.

Dilwale vs Bajirao -With the similar actor-director combination, movies have done better business in recent past. In 2013, Chennai Express, which had Shah Rukh Khan as lead actor, earned Rs 227 crore, one of the best in that year. On opening day, Chennai Express collected Rs 33.1 crore, compared with Dilwale’s Rs 21 crore only.

Similarly, Bhansali’s Ram Leela, with lead actors Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, collected Rs 15.1 crore on the opening day in 2013, compared with Bajirao’s Rs 13 crore.

Independent distributor and box office analyst Suniel Wadhwa says, “Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani’s cumulative collection has stormed the box office with an estimated domestic business of Rs 109 crore in the first three days. However, if these films had released on different dates, Dilwale would have shattered the record set by Chennai Express in 2013.” Compared with Chennai Express’s Rs 98 crore in the opening weekend, Dilwale fell short by 36 per cent at domestic box office. On the other hand, Bajirao Mastani earned eight per cent less in the opening weekend than Ram Leela’s Rs 49 crore.

Exhibitors said they would prefer multiple big releases over a clash like this where none of the movies realises its full potential. “As an exhibitor, I prefer one big release every Friday. Having two big releases poses a programming challenge and impacts collections for both the movies. In case of Dilwale and Bajirao, the former picked up from the word go while the latter took its time.

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By the end of the day, both had around 70-75 occupancy at Cinepolis screens across the country. Next week, with Star Wars releasing, there will be a capacity issue, even though the audience for the Hollywood franchise is hardly the same as the audience of either Dilwale or Bajirao.

The good thing is that we have a three-week window before another major Hindi film releases,” sais Devang Sampat, chief of strategy at Cinepolis, one of India’s largest multiplex chains. With Christmas around the corner, both the films are likely to continue doing good business apart from big cities where Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which has become a global sensation, might take away some of the screen space.

Producers may now want to rethink the release strategy for next year as two big films — SRK’s Raees and Salman Khan’s Sultan are both slated for an Eid release.

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