Saturday, June 12, 2010

Raavan on over 3000 screens, Raavanan booked on 550

Reliance Big Pictures still reeling from the massive disaster of Hrithik Roshan starrer Kites is going all out to save itself with the Abhishek Bachchan starrer Raavan. The publicity is low but there are talks the film may be releasing on as many as 3000 screens next week, with almost 500 screens in overseas. This is a very high number and still unconfirmed but if true, will make Raavan one of the biggest releases of Indian cinema.

The Tamil version titled 'Raavanan' with Vikram-Aishwarya Rai-Prithviraj will be comparatively much smaller, a 550 screen worldwide release, more than half of which (around 290) will be in Tamil Nadu itself.

Raavan is set for a London premiere on the 16th. In UK, Raavan is being booked on 48 prints and Raavanan at 17 prints. In North America, Raavan is primed for about 107 print release on possibly upto 200 screens.

Abhishek Bachchan has two big hits in his career as the main lead. One is Yash Chopra's Bunty&Babli with Rani Mukherjee which was the big hit of 2005, the other was Guru which was his first title role hit and also Mani Ratnam's first Hindi hit to date.

With this kind of release volume, Raavan team clearly wants it to be a blockbuster. There are a few potential problems however.

The subject matter and the crew is more conducive to parts of Tamil Nadu. Though it's in Hindi, Raavan is largely a Tamil movie in concept and execution with South Indians frontlining the cast/crew. For example Mani Ratnam, Vikram and Aishwarya Rai are all south Indians. Abhishek Bachchan is the only 'outsider' here of the main figures. And the movie potentially seeks to link itself to The Ramayan narrative albeit from a perspective of Mani Ratnam. Such setup has not worked in a big way in the past as mainstream Indian sensibilities have a certain orientation that few from Tamil Nadu have been able to figure out (barring a couple). This lends some insiders to speculate that while the film may get a big opening due to curiousity, it may have trouble sustaining outside Tamil Nadu (Tamil version) after the weekend.

On the other hand, other camps in the industry circle are advancing that the film has little to do with Ramayan. That its setting will be familiar to the audiences and its USP is in the individual narrative which has more to do with a class-warfare type subtext with an underclass based anti-hero/villain (Abhishek Bachchan) who outsmarts and extracts revenge on the more educated, polished and discriminatory upper class by taking Aishwarya Rai, and this type of film narrative would perhaps find success in the pan-national single screens and multiplexes.

Though to what extent remains to be seen in either scenario. The film releases on June 18 with Raavan premiering in London on the 16th of June.

Apart from Abhishek Bachchan, Raavan is crucial for Vikram who is part of a new wave of South Indian actors hoping to make it into Bollywood mainstream. Rana Daggubati from Andhra Pradesh in Rohan Sippy's Dum Maro Dum is another.

Reliance's investment in Raavan is said to be around 100 crores for all the 3 versions. Of which around 32 crores have been said to be recovered so far by ways of various rights such as tv and music. So the theatrical box office share has to be in the range of 65-70 crores worldwide from all 3 versions. What will help the film's theatrical shares in the south is that entertainment tax is marginal for regional language films. In fact in Tamil Nadu, Tamil films pay 0% ie no entertainment tax. So their Gross collection is actually the nett for Tamil blockbusters and shares are thus reported higher. In Hindi, even though the grosses are higher, nett and share are discounted due to the high entertainment taxes in Hindi belt states like UP, Bihar, MP, Rajasthan.

Nonetheless with even movies like Rajneeti posting Rs. 50 crore+ grosses in just 3 days, collection potential for Bollywood movies which are accepted is massive and going up rather sharply.

After the disaster of Kites, this is what Reliance is clinging onto with Raavan.

Source :

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