Three major southern films and two big Hindi films are hitting the screens this week. With the release of the NTR biopic today, the battle of the biggies has begun at the box office already. Joining in the fray will be Rajinikanth’s Petta and Ajith’s Viswasam on January 10.
Then on Friday, two much-awaited films on controversial subjects pertaining to two different political regimes in India will open in theatres – Uri: The Surgical Strike and The Accidental Prime Minister.
With the overlap of such highly anticipated films, an interesting numbers race has begun at the box office.
There was a huge build-up to the release of NTR: Kathanayakudu, the first installment of the NTR biopic, which hit the screens today. Starring Nandamuri Balakrishna as his father, the iconic on-screen legend and political leader NT Rama Rao, the film stars Vidya Balan in the role of NTR's first wife, Basavatarakam.
Owing to Balayya’s huge fan base in both the Telugu-speaking states, the movie had a big opening - about 1000 screens - in both AP and Telangana and also in certain parts of Tamil Nadu. Theatres are packed and a lot of fans have declared it a blockbuster already. The brouhaha isn’t unexpected, given the fact that NTR was a cinema legend who went on to become the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh for three terms.
NTR: Kathanayakudu deals with NTR's film career and life before entering politics. Besides the big opening in Telugu states, the film has had a huge release in the overseas market as well.
Though the NTR biopic got a clear opening in the Telugu states, neighbouring Tamil Nadu is gearing up for a big battle tomorrow. Rajinikanth’s Petta and Ajith’s Viswasam are set for a battle over the Pongal weekend. Thalaivar Rajinikanth will be taking on Thala Ajith, who is known for his phenomenal opening-day craze.
Big releases during the Pongal weekend is not new, but cinema owners are worried the films will eat into each other's business. Both the stars have their own fan following and there will be no clear winner at the box office.
According to trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai, there are about 1200 screens in Tamil Nadu and both films can expect about 600-700 screens each. He tweeted, “In TN both will get around 650-700 screens with a maximum number of them being shared. There may not be individual records as b-o gets divided, but the combined numbers are going to be Huge!”
Less than 24 hours to go, the trending topic is #PettaversusViswasam battle at the box-office. Due to the hype surrounding the films, the advance booking has been terrific for the #PongalWeekend. It has kicked up curiosity that most people want to have a “look” at both of them. pic.twitter.com/pqgNdkBwhw— Sreedhar Pillai (@sri50) January 9, 2019
Theater owner Abirami Ramanathan, however, is positive that good content will be the winner. He told Firstpost, “I think Pongal can accommodate two big films and depending on the content, we will know the winner after a few days and from the second week, more shows will be allotted to that film. In the future too, you can expect clashes between two big films and nobody is going to get that big solo release.”
A similar clash is all set to take place in Bollywood, with the release of Uri and The Accidental Prime Minister on Friday. Considering that the south films this week are huge, won’t they impact the release of the Hindi films too? Trade analyst Atul Mohan thinks that each film will cater to its own audience and the spillover will be minimal.
“The NTR biopic got a wide release in Andhra and Telengana, which has a huge NTR fan base. Andhra also has the maximum number of single screens. Tamil Nadu will see a clash between Petta and Viswasam. But I don’t see these south films affecting business upwards of Maharashtra,” he says.
“Rajinikanth movies, unless it is a Robot or 2.0, hasn’t made much impact on Hindi audiences. Films like Kala didn’t affect the business of Hindi films. It will be a ‘apne ghar mein sab sher hain’ situation this week."
“Uri and The Accidental Prime Minister will be opening in 1000 screens each, approximately. My opinion is that a film like Uri, which has Pak bashing and is about the Indian Army and patriotism, is usually liked by the audience. The Accidental Prime Minister is more like a documentary, so the script and content will decide its fate. My bets are on Uri," he adds.
Although he thinks that the audience is earmarked for every film, Atul agrees that the overseas market will be a different ball-game altogether. “The market for Telugu and Tamil is huge overseas. Uri and The Accidental Prime Minister will not make much impact there. For the south films, North America, Australia, Middle East, Singapore and Malaysia are the markets to look forward to. Expect big numbers for Petta and NTR there,” he said.
Viswasam is opening to a 1000+ screens overseas.
Official: #Viswasam overseas distributor @AandPgroups confirms 1000+ screen release in Overseas..— Ramesh Bala (@rameshlaus) January 9, 2019
Biggest release for a #Thala #Ajith movie in Overseas..
Considering the competition, this is really good..
There is a huge demand for tickets of Petta as well.
With five films, each trying to capture both the domestic and international markets, it remains to be seen who emerges the winner, or everyone gets a fair share of the pie at the box office this week.
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