Let me start off my telling you all a short, funny thing that happened today. I told my Dad that Shah Rukh Khan's film is releasing this Friday. His reply was, "which one?"
Let me tell you all why that sentence has significance. For almost 20 years, my family (including me, perhaps even in the initial of those 20 years when I was too young to know what is happening on-screen) have been watching Shah Rukh Khan films in theatres. We have seen most of them. The last SRK film we didn't watch in theatres was CHAK DE INDIA back in 2007, which we ended up watching at home later anyway. But the fact that my Dad wasn't even aware that FAN is releasing this Friday (despite him knowing about the film and having seen promos) is rather alarming.
See, the story isn't just in my family. I'm sure, there are many people out there that are not aware that a Shah Rukh Khan film is releasing in theatres this Friday. When a SRK film comes, it's like a festival. That huge buzz is there, helped further by the fact that his films usually release during a major holiday period (his last non-holiday release was MY NAME IS KHAN back in 2010).
The fact is, FAN has hardly been promoted, which has resulted in the pre-release buzz for the film feeling a bit thanda. If we compare it to the pre-release buzz of DILWALE, we can say that FAN's pre-release buzz is maybe 25% that of DILWALE's! The reasons are obvious: DILWALE had a HUGE star cast, chartbuster songs, one of the most popular directors in India, the masala genre which has a wide appeal, the Christmas period release, and of course the fact that it was clashing with BAJIRAO MASTANI added to the hype. FAN has Shah Rukh Khan, has a popular Jabra song (which should have perhaps been released closer to the film's release date, as the popularity may have started fading a bit already), and a theatrical trailer which was well-appreciated. But just like the Jabra song, there's only so long the trailer can sustain the film's buzz, and the fact is that it released a long month-and-half ago. So at the moment, the main crowd-pulling element for FAN is mainly just Shah Rukh Khan's starpower.
Am I sounding negative so far? Possibly, but I don't mean to. Here's why. This is only the pre-release buzz I have been talking about so far. Let's anayze: DILWALE, with all of it's pre-release buzz, ended up releasing with the film itself getting mixed WOM (Word of Mouth). The other release, BAJIRAO MASTANI, had very good WOM. The box office result? Although DILWALE had the better opening, BAJIRAO MASTANI became a bigger lifetime grosser because of the fact that the film had better WOM than DILWALE, thus marking a landmark event in Hindi cinema of Ranveer Singh defeating Shah Rukh Khan at the box office.
Furthermore, the backlash towards SRK after his controversial statement late last year, combined with the DILWALE backlash with many trying to bring the film down (possibly those who didn't even see the film) combined with a huge section of the audience that did actually see the film but did NOT like the film, it has made things a bit tough for SRK. The talks of him being old have also increased.
FAN may not have much pre-release buzz, but eventually it's the content of a film that does the talking. That is where FAN will succeed!
I strongly feel that FAN will be well-appreciated by the audience, and will feature an award-worthy performance by SRK (particularly as the fan Gaurav) in the eyes of the audience. The last time SRK won the Filmfare best actor award was for MY NAME IS KHAN in 2010, and it seems FAN will be his next film to get him the award. People often say that SRK wins awards all the time, but if you look at the Filmfare best actor award, SRK's last three times winning it were for SWADES, CHAK DE INDIA, and MY NAME IS KHAN, all of which are considered his career-best performances by many. His performance as Gaurav in FAN will join that elite list of performances in the eyes of the audience, especially his FANS!
As I said, the film itself will be well-appreciated by the audience. The concept is different, it has DARR type vibes as well, and the theatrical trailer released at the end of February was solid. RA ONE onwards, the only SRK film to enjoy good public WOM (Word of Mouth) in India has been CHENNAI EXPRESS, which had a WOM score of 60% according to Ormax. His last release DILWALE only had a 50% score (I remember predicting that it will be in the 50 % range before the film released). I feel that FAN will have Ormax Media WOM score in the range of 70%, making it his best WOM film in India in the last 8 years or so.
The opening of the film (especially in the morning shows) may shock the trade in a bad way. Some websites have been giving predictions in the range of 19 crores for the opening day, but I feel that it will be less than that given the current buzz level. I look at it this way: had DILWALE released solo (to make a proper comparison), it would've collected around 33 crore opening day in my estimation. If FAN has an opening day half of that, it would be approximately 16 crores. That is about 5 crores less than what DILWALE actually collected with the clash (21 crores), and I feel that the 16 crore estimation for FAN seems reasonable. Indicine has reported that the film has had the best advance booking of the year so far, but I still feel that the morning shows collections will be lower and under-performing for SRK standards, but the collections will pick up throughout the day due to strong WOM to get to that 16 crore mark.
For lifetime collections, because I feel that the WOM will be very good, the film will have very good trending at the box office, and thus it could multiply it's opening day by 10, to collect a lifetime total in the range of 160 crores. Indicine has said that 150 crores for the film will result in the film being a Hit, and thus with a 160 crore lifetime total, the film will be a Hit. FAN has two open weeks at the box office until the release of BAAGHI which itself seems to have strong buzz, but the very good WOM for FAN will ensure that FAN keeps a strong run at the box office for a couple of weeks.
My Box Office Predictions for FAN:
Opening Day: 16 crores net
Opening Weekend: 50+ crores net
Lifetime Collections: 160 crores net
Overall Verdict: Hit
UPDATE ON SATURDAY, APRIL 16, 2016: The final official figure for opening day is 19.20 crores. I was not aware of the partial holiday on Friday, I thought it was a non-holiday. As Indicine said though, if it was a non-holiday, the opening day would've been approx. 16 crores, and my prediction would've been accurate. It looks like FAN won't reach the 160 crore mark. The WOM is mixed: I watched some of the public feedback videos from places like Mumbai and Punjab, and although some were liking the film, the amount of people that called the film things like "bakwaas" can't be ignored. There is a drop in collections on Saturday, and at the moment it seems the maximum the film may collect is in the 130 crore range. How well Fan ends up performing at the box office depends on how much SRK's performance carries the film, as his performance is the most appreciated thing about the film.
Edited by srkat - 16 April 2016 at 12:26pm