With only two films having made their way into the 100-crore club this year so far, all eyes are on the box-office collections of Bajrangi Bhaijaan starring Salman Khan, one of the most bankable stars in the industry today. Nearly 5000 screens have been allotted to the Kabir Khan film across the country and on the first day, most theatres witnessed 90-95 per cent occupancy.

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An industry source says, “In several big and small cities, the film ran to full houses throughout the day while in Mumbai, popular cinemas recorded good sale of tickets. The fact that Salman managed to get a solo release is a huge advantage. It has even recorded the highest number of advance bookings with tickets for first three days almost sold out in many places. Moreover, it has received positive reviews and is being recommended for a family watch, which will attract more people to the theatres.”

Salman Khan fans break into a song and dance outside Gaiety Galaxy in Bandra. PIC/ SAMEER MARKANDE
Salman Khan fans break into a song and dance outside Gaiety Galaxy in Bandra. PIC/ SAMEER MARKANDE

Cashing in on the Sal-mania, exhibitors are said to have increased ticket rates — regular ones that cost R110-R150 in a suburban multiplex in Mumbai have been revised to R250-300. The price for a gold class seat varies between Rs 750 and Rs 900 in the city instead of Rs 500. The scenario is more or less the same in other major cities like Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune, Indore, etc. Reportedly, in a few Delhi theatres, tickets were sold in black for as much as thrice the actual cost.

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Trade expert Taran Adarsh says, “The film’s business will be huge, considering the heady combination of Salman’s stardom and Eid’s festive spirit. Theatre owners have, therefore, raised the ticket costs to capitalise on the Salman craze. It is anticipated that Bajrangi will cross the R100-crore mark in the opening weekend itself.”

Photos: Star-studded screening of 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan'

Distributor Girish Wankhede, however, asserts that the rise in ticket prices is but “marginal”. “In case of anticipated blockbusters, the ticket rates are hiked, but this time round, it is marginal. Bajrangi Bhaijaan has released at an apt time and the solo release is working wonders for it as there is no Hollywood film either for competition. Friday was a weekday, so the business might have been slightly hit, but today onwards, you see how the footfalls increase,” he adds.

Manoj Desai, executive director of Gaiety Galaxy and Maratha Mandir, echoes Wankhede. “The film has had a fantastic opening. Bajrangi Bhaijaan might just surpass all expectations over the weekend. About the ticket pricing, the rates at our theatres remain the same,” he states.  

In his tweet, trade analyst Komal Nahta said: “Waiting for Eid ka chand? But Eid has already arrived at the b.o. #BajrangiBhaijaan takes a fantabulous opening all over. Unprecedented rush.”

Also read: 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' - Movie Review

As far as the overseas market is concerned, the film released on 800 screens in over 30 countries. A trade source based in Dubai suggests that the movie has had a rousing opening across the UAE. “Salman has a huge fan following here and he seems set to break all records at the box-office. In fact, the number screens for Bahubali has been slashed considering the Salman wave. Advance booking figures were exceptional and will surely translate into big figures,” adds the source.

There were apprehensions of a delayed released across the border as the Pakistani authorities allegedly wanted to avoid the film clashing with two of their big-ticket releases. However, it hit the theatres there as scheduled with the chairman of censor board reportedly having certified that there is no negative element about the country in the film.