Gadar 2 gives single-screen cinemas a much-needed boost

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New Delhi: Gadar 2, a sequel to the 2001 hit, has finally brought some cheer to pandemic-hit small, single-screen cinemas in the Hindi-speaking belt with audiences returning in droves.

This is leading industry experts to estimate net opening weekend collections of 110-120 crore within India and global gross collections of 150 crore for the film.

Gadar 2 has been lapped up in the Hindi heartland including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and parts of central India in a welcome relief to such cinemas at a time of waning popularity of Bollywood films among mass-market viewers with several new releases considered to feature mostly urban, elitist themes.

Recent hits like Oppenheimer and Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani too, were mostly targeted at up-market, multiplex audiences.

Gadar 2 clocked opening day collections of more than 39 crore, making it the second highest first-day grosser of 2023 after Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan ( 55 crore) and the ninth highest opening day grosser of all time among original Bollywood films.

“We’re humbled by the response which shows that the film is being celebrated like a festival. And all of this with the Independence Day holiday yet to come,” Shariq Patel, chief business officer, Zee Studios, producers of the film said, adding that the movie has met its goal of serving as a community experience. Single screen cinemas have even added shows as early as 1:00 am and 4:30 am to accommodate audiences. The film’s release happened just days after the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal approved Sony Pictures Network India’s (Culver Max Entertainment) proposed merger with Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL).

Set during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971, Gadar 2 has been directed by Anil Sharma and sees original actors Sunny Deol and Ameesha Patel reprising their roles.

Bhumika Tewari, senior vice-president, acquisition and revenues (worldwide theatrical and non-theatrical) at ZEEL said the film is being shown in about 4,000 screens across India. However, the number of shows rose from 13,000 to 14,000 over the weekend with reasonable pricing, and in case of single screens, in the range of Rs. 110-120.

Videos of crowds dancing and cheering in theatres in tier-two and tier-three towns have made their way to social media over the past few days. Amid a slew of Bollywood box office failures, the Hindi-speaking heartland has seen a wave of temporary and permanent closures of single-screen cinemas. About 1,500-2,000 theatres had already shut shop during the pandemic.

Several small-town theatres that operate only during the lucrative Diwali weekend have opened up for Gadar 2 and theatres, even in the south, where Rajinikath’s Jailer and Chiranjeevi’s Bhola Shankar, are also running, are adding extra shows. Gadar 2, however, remains a north-centric hit with contribution of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh at 26.5% (as compared to 20% in most films), Punjab at 13% (versus 9-10%) and Rajasthan at 7.5% (compared to 4%). Other markets like Bihar too are going into overdrive.

Bihar-based independent exhibitor Vishek Chauhan said while single screen theatres like theirs are expecting the film to do well, the connect with mass-market audiences has exceeded all expectations. While collections close to Rs. 200 crore could come in by Independence Day, the week could end with Rs. 230-240 crore. “Now it has become difficult for people to resist this film. Ours is a derived demand business, so if you give single screens the right product, everything will fall in place,” Chauhan said.

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Updated: 13 Aug 2023, 11:37 PM IST

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