This release day (August 11) was thought by many to help revive the Hindi film industry with two big releases in "Laal Singh Chaddha" and "Raksha Bandhan."
With Aamir Khan and Akshay Kumar headlining the two films, many expected the films would break the rut – of Bollywood non-performers. However, the first signs do not appear to be promising. The advance bookings for both films stayed quite low and the opening day occupancy is lagging at 12-20 percent, depending on the location. This has led many industry insiders to predict gloomy times ahead for the two mega films.
Reports of low advance bookings had been doing rounds since Tuesday itself.
This was backed up by multiple reports in BoxOfficeeIndia.com, which claimed the advance bookings for both were low. Now, sources say that the opening day first shows have seen remarkably low attendance for both films. An exhibitor from Delhi said, "The occupancy for 'Laal Singh Chaddha' is around 15-20 percent in multiplexes and for 'Raksha Bandhan' it is even lower, as low as 12 percent in some halls for the first shows. This is very disappointing." BoxOfficeIndia.com has also reported the same figures.
Given that the films released on the festival of Raksha Bandhan, they were expected to do much better, and the initial numbers have sent alarm bells ringing in the industry. Trade analysts say the figures should improve over the weekend but 60-70 percent occupancy looks unlikely, which means the films will struggle to post huge opening weekend numbers.
Film trade analyst Atul Mohan says that such numbers were expected since Raksha Bandhan is a festival, where people do not go out much. "This is a festival where people stay with family and not go out for movies. The numbers are likely to stay low till evening. My concern is that given it's a long weekend, people tend to travel, which may further hurt the business. The films won't have big opening days but how they perform depend on how they improve over the next 2-3 days."
The one thing working for the two films is positive critical reception, which both have received. This can lead to good word-of-mouth. Films have seen growth through word-of-mouth, most notably The Kashmir Files, but bigger tentpole films like "Laal Singh Chaddha" and "Raksha Bandhan" work on strong opening days, which looks like a stretch here.
Laal Singh Chaddha is the official Hindi remake of Tom Hanks' Forrest Gump, and stars Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Naga Chaitanya, and Mona Singh. Mounted on a ₹180-crore budget, the film has been directed by Advait Chandan. Raksha Bandhan, on the other hand, has been directed by Aanand L Rai. The film, which has a budget of ₹70-90 crore as per sources, sees Akshay in the role of a brother trying to get his four sisters married.