The big-ticket month of 2018 is here! Leave the many dark horses and unexpected fiascos and, in fact, we have always looked at December 2018 with great rather than grated expectations. Kedarnath, Zero and Simmba are theoretically set to dominate, as projected for a long while. So, for the purpose of discussion, we can cast the relatively inconsequential Rangeela Raja and Merey Pyare Prime Minister aside, which even if they do well, can hardly fight these three biggies.
Three, did we say? Correction: make that four. 2.0, an end-November release, will have most of its run in December. As director Shankar put it, “I made this sequel only when I got the story idea, because everyone wanted a sequel as soon as Robot (2010) became a hit. You cannot make a sequel just to do something and cash in. Then one day, 4-5 years ago, a thought came to me, of cellphones travelling on a street! I don’t know why it came. But I began to think of why they will travel, and how they will travel. From that, slowly, a beautiful story evolved.”Zero
Here’s a considered assessment of what is set to happen in deadly December in the movies.
2.0 (Release: November 29)
Budget: This is the highest-ever budgeted Indian film— Rs. 500 crore-plus, spent predominantly on technology and VFX and the 3-D filming. Producers have already recovered Rs. 370 crore. With a breakeven figure set at an approximate Rs 270 crore worldwide nett, it seems a cakewalk, given the buzz, Rajinikanth’s fandom, Akshay Kumar’s presence and the overall dynamics of the film.
Time to capitalize: If the pan-Indian and global audience finds it worthwhile, the sky beyond Bahubali can be the limit. In Hindi cinema, it can co-exist with an advantage over Kedarnath, releasing a week later.
Nett prospects: Blockbuster.
Kedarnath (December 7):
Budget: Commensurate with the prospects of the ambitious film.
USP: Subtle underlying messages are clearly anticipated, other than the obvious one of religious harmony. A fresh storyline, Kedarnath looks at love versus not just communal bias but also the anger of Lord Shiva, and suggests that the floods unleashed (as was the real catastrophe in 2013) showed the wrath of God. The VFX needed has been used quite well.
Time to capitalize: Since the film has no superstar or big-name director, it will have to make it entirely on merits. But if the audience finds it worthy of lapping up, despite 2.0, it has a free phase of a fortnight to make hay.
Nett prospects: A hit on merit—or higher.
Zero (December 21):
Budget: High, given the prostheses and VFX needed for Shah Rukh Khan, playing a vertically challenged man a full 28 years after Appu Raja and Kamal Haasan had to do it with a lot more physical effort and some trick photography.
Aanand L. Rai believes in telling (and backing as a producer) good stories. As a director, he has succeeded big-time with the very different Tanu Weds Manu franchise, and his fans—and SRK’s—expect and want him to go beyond this time.
Time to capitalize: There is just a week before Simmba though, notwithstanding 2.0 and Kedarnath, if they perform as well or better than expected.
Nett prospects: Hit at least.
Simmba (December 28):
Budget: On par with the cost-effective budgets of all Rohit Shetty extravaganzas.
USP: Rohit Shetty has always been a ‘content’ man—heavy on the emotional quotient of even his comic stories and ‘content’ with the box-office performance that results from them and his intelligent and entertainment-heavy execution, come action, comedy or a mix.
He has two bonus cards too: One: if Kedarnath or/and Sara Ali Khan work, she will be another magnet for the film. Two, it’s the Christmas season and week, which has given us Ghajini, 3 Idiots, PK, Dangal and Tiger Zinda Hai.
Time to capitalize: A full four weeks before the next big-ticket film.
Nett prospects: A minimum super-hit. A Rohit Shetty actioner is very, very, very unlikely to come off either as a Race 3 or Thugs Of Hindostan!
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