FILM: As the countdown to April 28 begins, the audience is gearing up for the release of 'Baahubali 2: The Conclusion' in its quest to find out 'Why Kattappa Killed Baahubali', a question that surprised the audience -- and also became a major marketing hook line later -— at the end of the first part, 'Baahubali: The Beginning'.
'Baahubali: The Beginning', released on July 10, 2015, was a highly successful film at the box office. The first movie in the series was released in over 4,000 screens, grossing over Rs .600 crore worldwide. The film was a success in all the languages of its release -- Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam -— which is a rare feat. The movie was shot in Telugu and Tamil, and dubbed in Hindi and Malayalam. The second part is also being released in all these languages.
Both parts of the heavily VFX-driven fictional war film have been made at a combined production cost of about Rs .450 crore, the highest ever in India.
After the huge success of the first part, advance bookings of the concluding sequel have been very strong, and analysts expect it to create new box office records like never before.
Asked whether the film could be a game changer looking at its unprecedented hype, film trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai said, "It has the potential to be a game changer, but content is the ultimate thing. However, the way it's being promoted and looking at the advance bookings and expectations, it is definitely a game changer."
The film will face little competition in all the languages once it is released. "In today's world, it is the best thing that can happen to any film... If this film is a super hit like the last one, it could bring in 10-20 per cent more in collections," says Sreedhar Pillai. He also clarified that it is unlikely to collect Rs 1,000 crore as hyped up.
Pillai conservatively puts his first day worldwide box office estimate at Rs 80-85 crore, noting that the film has still got the potential to collect Rs 100 crore if it performs unimaginably. He also said that the film is looking at release in 7,000-plus screens in India. It is going to release in 70-75 per cent of the screens in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, and in 80 per cent of the screens in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Pillai added.
At the request of the film's unit, the Andhra Pradesh government has allowed single screen theatres to run six shows for the movie for 10 days against the normal four shows, while the Telangana government has permitted five shows daily.
"This measure could add an extra Rs .20-25 crore in first week collections," Pillai opined.
However, he says that the Hindi content must do extraordinarily well if the movie is to be a game changer.
"Advance bookings of the Hindi version are excellent and beyond expectations," says Hindi Film Trade Analyst Komal Nahta.
He adds, "It could be a game changer insofar among dubbed films... Many Hindi films generally don't collect Rs 200 crore. If this one does, it will be the first ever dubbed do achieve this milestone." Nahta says he doesn't see any other film coming close to it in near future.
He further says that the first part's domestic box office collections were in the range of Rs .360-370 crore and the concluding part could collect Rs .450-500 crore, which will be the highest ever, if achieved.
The second part will be released in around 1,000 screens in North America, which again is a record for Indian movies. However, first part's overseas collections were primarily driven by the US box office, the traditional strong area for Telugu movies. It couldn't do similar business in the Gulf market (strong area for Hindi and Malayalam films) and in the east-Asian market (strong area for Tamil films). The first part wasn't marketed properly in non-Telugu languages abroad before the release.
Nonetheless, Pillai agrees that this time it has no such problems. "In Dubai, it is opening big. It has already got over one lakh advance bookings. No other film has got such advance bookings in that market. There you cannot even fudge figures." He expects even Singapore and Malaysia to deliver a strong response to the film.
The way forward for Indian cinema is to tap the integrated market of various languages to realise its full potential as Baahubali has done, said Pillai.
Hollywood realised it much earlier and it is evident through box office performance of movies like Fast and Furious 8 in India, Pillai says, agreeing that movies like Rajnikanth- and Akshay Kumar-starrer Robot 2.0, directed by Shankar, in the near future are trying to bridge such gaps in India.
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