The latest offering from Bollywood - "99" (pictured above) - did not open to packed houses in multiplexes on the first day of its release but the film's producers are sure business will pick up over the weekend.
According to multiplex chains Satyam Cineplex and M2K, the film has not garnered major bookings in New Delhi.
"The movie is doing average business, it's not very good. I think the information that a movie has finally been released amidst the producer-multiplex strike, has not been spread very well. So there is not much rush and there is no excitement for the film as well," a representative from Satyam Cineplex, told IANS.
"I think if the Indian Premier League (IPL) was not being held, it might have pulled in crowds, but as of now the business is a little cold," added the representative.
A source from M2K said: "'99' has not been able to draw a lot of audience. People aren't coming and bookings are also not a lot in number. We don't see the film registering a houseful."
Directed by Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K., "99" is a comedy inspired by real events in 1999 and 2000 and stars Soha Ali Khan, Kunal Khemu, Boman Irani and Cyrus Broacha in the lead.
Prior to the film's release, experts had said that though the film does not fall in the "big product" range, it would bring footfalls.
Contrary to what multiplexes have observed within the first two days of the film's release, Anupam Mittal, chairman of People Group, one of the producers of the movie, says the opening of the film has been encouraging and they are expecting to multiply their profits over the weekend.
"The opening is very encouraging - close to Rs.1 crore (Rs.10 million) countrywide on the first day itself. It's very good. It's a word-of-mouth movie and it's going to pull up over the weekend. The figures were beyond our expectations and we are expecting close to double over the weekend," Mittal told IANS over phone from Mumbai.
Talking about the countrywide footfalls of the film, he added: "The footfalls are varying in different parts of the country. For example, in Chennai and Hyderabad it is 100 and 85 percent respectively. While in Mumbai and Delhi, the film has shown momentum except in the single-screens, as we haven't marketed our film to them."
Made at a budget of over Rs.150 million, the film released worldwide with around 500 prints. It was expected to tide over the five-week dry spell at the box office thanks to the ongoing deadlock between producers and multiplexes over revenue sharing ratio.
Though the film has not been able to garner more than three stars from film critics in India, it received rave reviews by the New York Times.
The leading US daily saw the film as "a refreshing sign that commercial Indian cinema has room in its big tent for more than one kind of storytelling".
Indo-Asian News Service
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