UTV, the producers of Chennai Express (CE) are laughing all the way to the bank. And the next bank holiday on August 15.
Binding multiplexes and single theatres across the country under an agreement to not remove Chennai Express from a single show on August 15, UTV has put Balaji Films and their much-publicized product Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Dobaara, in a peculiar spot.
This big-budget Akshay Kumar-Sonakshi Sinha-Imran Khan starrer finds itself in an exhibitory crisis. The purported blockbuster, the sequel to Milan Luthria's 2010 gangster hit, faces an acute shortage of theatres.
The first ever big-budget film to be thus disadvantaged. Says a source from a leading multiplex chain, "We are helpless. UTV has made us sign a contract that we won't remove Chennai Express from a single show on August 15. That's where matters stand at the moment. Last month we had small-budget films being left out in the release race."
UTV, we are told, won't budge.
The scenario could change without warning, as Balaji Films are supposed to be in talks with UTV about the exhibition deadlock.
Says the multiplex source, "We've been told to hang on to the current schedule and screen Chennai Express on Thursday (August 15) until any further decision is taken on the matter."
A leading filmmaker closely associated with UTV says, "Balaji has gotten into this situation with their eyes open. They knew very well that they were coming behind a massive film. Such a bottleneck is bound to happen when you choose to take on a Shah Rukh Khan starrer."