This Diwali, the Bollywood box office is expected to be on fire with two major releases - Shah Rukh Khan's yet untitled film with Yash Chopra, and Ajay Devgn-starrer "Son of Sardar". The buzz is strong for both projects, which are most likely to mint at least Rs.100 crore, according to trade pundits.
Both the films have a special advantage - a clean week before and after their release Nov 13.
"There are no other films releasing in that period. So it's an added bonus. We are expecting both the films to collect Rs.100 crore-plus during Diwali," Sanjay Ghai of Mukta Arts told IANS.
The Shah Rukh-starrer marks the return of veteran filmmaker Chopra to direction after a hiatus of eight years. He is currently shooting for the romantic drama in the scenic locales of the Kashmir Valley. His movie also stars Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma and is said to feature King Khan in his true-blue romantic avatar, making it one of the most awaited releases of the year.
"Son of Sardar", a romantic comedy directed by Ashwini Dhir, features Ajay and Sanjay Dutt in key roles, with Sonakshi Sinha and Juhi Chawla essaying the female leads. The movie's teasers have received a positive response.
A budget of at least Rs.60 crore each is said to have been involved in the making of the two films as per industry sources.
Rajesh Thadani of Multimedia Combines opined: "Yash Chopra's film will have the edge over the other and will benefit more. But both the films have the potential to survive and should collect around Rs.100 crore each."
Yash Raj Films (YRF) is lately riding high on the success of blockbuster "Ek Tha Tiger", starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif. Released Aug 15, the film has already ammased over Rs.170 crore and is on its way to creating more records.
To make sure the film got one of the best openings ever, YRF released the film in over 3,000 screens.
Now, YRF is reportedly planning to go bigger with its mega Diwali release.
"The buzz and excitement for the as yet untitled film is tremendous. The film also marks the coming together yet again of the award-winning duo of music maestro A.R.Rahman and poet and lyricist Gulzar, adding to the appeal of the film," Rafiq Gangjee, vice president (Marketing and Communications), YRF, told IANS.
"Given all of this, while we are planning an extensive release worldwide this Diwali, it is too early to predict the number of screens finally. This will only firm up much closer to the release Nov 13," added Gangjee.
According to industry grapevine, YRF has booked the pre-booked maximum screens for the new film.
"But it should not be a problem for 'Son of Sardar' as eventually, if the film has a strong content, it will have a long run," said Thadani.
Since the opening weekend collections have become the deciding factor for a film's fate, it has become a trend to pre-book screens to make the most of the first three days. There's no denying that the strategy turned out to be correct for Kabir Khan-directed "Ek Tha Tiger".
Explaining the phenomenon, trade analyst Vinod Mirani said: "'Ek Tha Tiger' was released in 3,300 screens with six shows per day in multiplexes. The idea was to collect maximum within the two days of the release.
"It worked for 'Ek Tha Tiger' because it had a solo release on Independence Day, then there was the Eid weekend, and it had Salman Khan. The film managed to collect Rs.175 crore in 12 days."
Mirani says while the formula worked for action thriller "Ek Tha Tiger", it may or may not work with Chopra's own directorial "because his films are generally very lengthy".
"The number of shows (a film gets) get reduced because of that," he said, adding that "there is an audience for both the films"
This is not the first time two big films will clash on Diwali, which falls Nov 13.
"Even 'Mission Kashmir' and 'Mohabbatein' were released together (in 2000). Then 'Veer Zaara' and 'Aitraaz' were released together (in 2004) and 'All The Best', 'Mr & Mrs Khanna' and 'Blue' were released together (in 2007). So, the films will get their screens according to the length of the films," said Ghai.