GET ON THE EXPRESS: Shah Rukh Khan woos fans at City Centre 2 on July 27 in a Chennai Express promotional held in association with t2
Salman Khan on I-Day 2012: 3,330 screens
Shah Rukh Khan on Id 2013: 3,500-plus screens
Salman Khan on I-Day 2012: Rs 32.92 crore
Shah Rukh Khan on Id 2013: Rs xx.xx crore
Three weeks after the two hugged — and apparently made up — at an iftar in Mumbai, the big screen is set for the big fight. Salman Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger had roared to a Bollywood opening day record last August. A week shy of a year later, Shah Rukh Khan’s Chennai Express hopes to be the runaway train that smashes that barrier.
And powering the SRK Express this Friday will be passengers like Aishwarya Biswas, a fan since Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. “I have been waiting for this film for months and there is no question of not watching the first show on Friday,” said the software professional, one among the 1.5 lakh screaming fans who had turned up at City Centre 2 on July 27 to ‘Get on the Express’ with their hero.
Hours before the superhit show, SRK had told t2: “The film is very entertaining. You can see it with your kids, you can see it with your grandmom. It’s not heavy on the head, it’s nice on the heart.”
Early trends indicate that his fans have already taken the Rohit Shetty-directed film, co-starring Deepika Padukone, to heart. “The buzz is phenomenal. This weekend, all roads will lead only to Shah Rukh Khan and Chennai Express,” said Mumbai-based trade analyst Taran Adarsh, about the film that chugs into 3,500-plus screens nationwide and another 700 screens overseas.
Distributors Aum Moviez have locked in as many as 200 screens across Bengal for Chennai Express. “Going by the buzz, we have given a wide release to the film. The opening should be phenomenal,” said Debashish De of Aum Moviez.
Multiplexes have lined up as many as 10 shows of paid previews on Thursday evening, the highest ever in town. From Friday, there will be a Chennai Express show every half hour at every plex, with Fame (South City) packing in 21 shows every day.
“It’s coming in bigger than anything we have seen in recent times. Not only is the demand for the Thursday previews high, there are already bulk bookings through the weekend,” said an official of Fame Cinemas.
At PVR and Cinemax, Chennai Express tickets are flying off the counters. “The response has been very good and we expect it to rise through the weekend,” said regional general manager Swaraj Sadhukhan.
It’s no different at the single-screen cinemas. “All four shows for Saturday and Sunday are already full and even the preview show on Thursday evening is fast filling up,” said Pranab Roy of Menoka.
The story is much the same across the country. “The music and the dialogues have really caught on and the audience is excited to see Shah Rukh Khan and Rohit Shetty coming together for the first time,” said Adarsh.
Id may traditionally be a Salman Khan domain — three of his Id week releases in as many years have crossed the Rs 100cr mark (Dabangg, Bodyguard and Ek Tha Tiger ) — but Chennai Express’s package of King Khan, a 100cr director, a heroine on a box-office roll and chartbusting music set it up for a mega opening.
No wonder Chennai Express is ready to release subtitled in 10 international languages, including Dutch, Hebrew and Turkish while a simultaneous release has been planned for seven new markets, from Peru to Ibiza, Austria to Israel. Even before its release, Zee TV is said to have picked up the satellite rights for a cool Rs 40 crore
But for Shah Rukh’s train to beat Salman’s tiger, fans like Rianna Ghosh need to take up the baton. “I will catch Chennai Express on the first day, even if it’s the last show, and I intend to go back at least twice more in the first weekend,” smiled the Howrah resident.
1,2,3,4.... Time to get on the dance floor!
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