Though Salman Khan won't be in India for the release of his much talked about 'Bodyguard', his charm seems to have cast a spell on his fans as is evident from the advance bookings for the film, releasing on Eid. The cash registers are ringing and multiplex owners are hoping that the mid-week celebrations will continue till the weekend.
"We had opened the advance bookings for the film on Monday (August 29) and so far it has been really good. If we combine the online bookings and the ticket counter bookings, the figure comes to around 65 percent," said Amit Shah, chief manager (programming) of DLF DT cinemas.
"Since it's an extended weekend, we expect the response to go up to 90 to 100 percent. I feel the movie will be a blockbuster," he added.
'Bodyguard' is the Hindi remake of the Malayalam film of the same name. It is being co-produced by Atul Agnihotri and Reliance Entertainment. The makers have set aside a marketing and print budget of around Rs.22 crore.
Directed by Siddique, the movie revolves around Divya (Kareena Kapoor) and her bodyguard Lovely Singh (Salman). It's a tale of conflict, innocence, mischief, love, power and life.
"The advance booking for the film is much beyond our expectations. Considering the fact that it is releasing mid-week, we have already sold around 45 percent tickets for Wednesday (August 31) and it seems like the weekend is going to be equally heavy," Gautam Dutta, COO of PVR Ltd said.
"After a long time we are seeing such enthusiasm among people. The response is just fantastic," he added.
In the midst of all this, Salman is in the US for treatment of a medical condition that causes facial pain.
This is not the first time a Salman movie is releasing on Eid. His 2009 blockbuster 'Wanted' and the 2010 mega hit 'Dabangg' both hit theatres during the festival and swept the box-office with record breaking collections.
Although his last film 'Ready' was not an Eid release, it still worked well at the box-office.
Yogesh Raizada, corporate head (Cinemas) of Wave Cinemas said: "The advance booking of the film is good. Since it is a Salman Khan movie and he has a huge fan following, the film is likely to open well. The excitement is even more as his previous two films were also hits. Also, this movie has been promoted extensively with Salman stealing the limelight."
Puneet Sahay, senior manager for programming and operations at Spice Cinemas, says they have already "covered 35 percent of seats which includes the online booking."
"We are expecting an occupancy of 100 percent in the first five days of the release."
Ahtesham Khan, a 21-year-old student, has already booked his ticket for first-day-first-show - all for the love of the 45-year-old Salman.
"I know this movie is already a hit. Look at Salman bhai, he is looking so good in the film. It looks like a good combination of comedy, romance, action and betrayal. I am looking forward to watching the movie tomorrow. But I wish him all the best and hope the film is a hit," he said.
There were some differences between the distributes and multiplex owners before the movie's release, but these have been sorted out.
"There were some issues between the multiplexes and distributors of the film regarding revenue sharing. The distributors were asking for more revenue sharing but the issues have been resolved now. The film will be running in all cineplexes," clarified Sahay.
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