While one waits to see if the Rs. 202 crore total of Aamir Khan's 3 Idiots would be threatened by Shah Rukh Khan's Chennai Express, it is pretty much expected in the trade that at least one record held by Ace Khan is set to be broken. This evening UTV is all set to bring the Rohit Shetty directed affair on a record number of prints, hence giving it the hugest Paid Preview release ever in the history of Bollywood.
This also means that 3 Idiots record of approx Rs. 2.5 crore, which it had earned a night before its full-fledged release, is all set to be broken.
"While typically Paid Previews arrive at 3 or 4 shows on a Thursday night, it is at least triple or more for Chennai Express. It is a huge exception that has been made since Shah Rukh Khan is looking at making the best use of the platform that is available for it. All major multiplex chains are screening 10-12 shows from Thursday evening itself and a huge inflow of moolah is expected," confirms a source.
Now the least that Chennai Express is expected to gather on Thursday is Rs. 5 crores, which would be double of what 3 Idiots had scored. However, few in the trade are pegging the number to be much higher.
"It makes sense though for him to arrive big this Thursday since Friday is a Eid holiday," comments leading distributor Girish Johar, "For families it becomes all the more easy to plan for a Thursday night show as they don't have to worry about Friday being a working day. Chennai Express is following a right strategy to make good amount of money from Thursday itself."
Given the fact that majority of footfalls are anyways from evening onwards for any regular release, the fact that the party begins earlier for Shah Rukh Khan makes a statement around his confidence in the product.
"Of course there is always fear of something like this backfiring," comments an exhibitor on the condition of anonymity, "If a film is rejected on Thursday itself, especially in the world of social networking where audience is the biggest critic today, it is tough for a film to stand back on its feet. This had happened with Kites which was marred by poor word of mouth before its full fledged release. However, considering the fact that Shah Rukh has been in the business for long, he must have taken a well calculated risk here."
However, the general mood in the industry is jubilant, what with talks of many records in the offering.
"I won't comment on which film's record would be broken but I can confidently say that Chennai Express is going to create many records for sure, starting with Paid Previews," says Girish Wankhade, Head Marketing, Cinemax and PVR (West), in a tongue-in-cheek tone.
"We are glad to screen 10-12 shows on Thursday itself for two reasons. First and foremost the buzz is very high and it makes sense to capitalize on that. Secondly, there is no other blockbuster in the running that can't be moved. If we have slots available and we can bring a much awaited film like Chennai Express on Thursday evening itself, why won't we do that", he adds, "From Friday onwards there would be an average of 20 shows at all our major properties."