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Millionaire hopes & memories

The Oscar sweep has revived hopes for theatres running Slumdog Millionaire,which collected only Rs 10 lakh in the first week after its January 23 release at City Pride Multiplex — 40 per cent less than expectations — and whose gross dipped further in the next three weeks.

Written by Pranav Kulkarni | Pune |
February 24, 2009 12:17:26 am

Slumdog collections: Wasn’t doing well so far; now theatre owners bank on Oscar showing

The Oscar sweep has revived hopes for theatres running Slumdog Millionaire,which collected only Rs 10 lakh in the first week after its January 23 release at City Pride Multiplex — 40 per cent less than expectations — and whose gross dipped further in the next three weeks.

Now,many theatres are hoping the weight of the eight Oscars it won may draw the crowds,though others are still planning to wind it up.

Shyam Shinde of Gold Big Cinemas (formerly Gold Adlabs) says the demand for the movie is so low that it’s being shown once a day. “We’re showing the English version. Given the kind of collection we’re netting,we plan to wind it up this Thursday,” he said.

Given the reduced life span of films in India these days,they are judged not by the number of weeks they run,but the box office collection first week after their release. On it depends how many shows a day it is deemed worthy of. The average first-week collection of Slumdog Millionaire in the city at Rs 10 lakh compares poorly with Ghajini (Rs 32 lakh),Rab Ne Banadi Jodi and Singh is Kinng (Rs 25 lakh). Only Billu (Rs 12 lakh) which fared slightly better came close.

“The film does not have the pull of big banner Hindi movies with a huge star cast and maximum publicity drives. Slumdog Millionaire has not done too well in these areas which seems to have resulted in average collections at the box office,” said Rishikesh Chaphalkar,partner,City Pride Multiplex.

“Ghajini,Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi,Singh is Kinng and Rock On are some of recent films tagged as ‘hits’ based on first-week collections. Slumdog Millionaire is nowhere close. The movies that can be compared with it are Oye Lucky Lucky Oye,Billu,Luck By Chance,all average collectors at the box office,” Neerav Panchamiya,vice-president,E Square Multiplex,said.

Multiplex/ cinema hall owners are also crying foul over the mushrooming of sites that allow the downloading of the video and audio of films before release.

Another factor they held responsible for the poor turnout is easy availability of pirated CDs.The offer from Tata Sky,where Slumdog Millionaire was shown at Rs 25 for three days (Feb 20-22),also ensured that not many came to the theatre,they said.

However,there are optimists betting on the Oscars the film has bagged and the big Indian wins by

A R Rahman and Resul Pookutty to turn the tide in the movie’s favour in terms of renewed viewer interest.

“We are planning to celebrate the victory of Slumdog Millionaire. Till last week we had just one show per day. We are planning to increase it to three shows a day. We can’t say how long we’ll keep the film running. It’ll depend on the viewer response,” said Gaurav Bhure,marketing head,INOX. City Pride and E-Square too hope to ride the Oscar fever unlike Gold Big Cinemas.

But whether the Oscars have given Slumdog Millionaire the much-needed boost will be known only in the coming weeks.

The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) held a special screening on Monday to honour its alumni Resul Pookutty.

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