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Aamir’s the X(mas) factor at box office Record screens for Dhoom: 3

- Dhoom:3 to open big, eyes Krrish 3 record

Aamir Khan is aiming to vroom past Shah Rukh Khan’s Chennai Express and vault over Hrithik Roshan’s Krrish 3 this festive weekend with an octane rush of motorbike machismo and conman cool.

Dhoom:3, Aamir’s only release in 2013 and for most the biggest film of the year, looks set for a party as it hits cinemas with “phenomenal” to “excellent” advance bookings since tickets went on sale last Sunday.

“Advance bookings across the country have been phenomenal. Aamir has proved that one can create such tremendous buzz for a film without promoting it as much as one would have expected him to. The film is guaranteed to get off to a flying start on Friday and holds enough promise and potential to become the biggest hit ever,” predicted Mumbai-based trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

Releasing seven years after Dhoom:2, the Christmas offering takes forward the fun cop-vs-conman franchise with a new director in Vijay Krishna Acharya, oomph in the form of Katrina Kaif, mind-boggling stunts, exotic foreign locales, rambunctious dance sequences and, yes, mean bikes.

But the film’s trump card is undoubtedly Aamir, who plays Sahir, a character with shades of grey. The actor, known to work hard on a role even before the first shot has been canned, trained extensively in martial arts and tap dance to play a character that he had told t2 was the “most challenging I have done in my 25-year-long career”.

If the advance bookings, especially in Calcutta, are any indication, Mr Perfectionist’s efforts seemed to have already paid off, at least for the time being. “There’s an unbelievable craze surrounding the film and we are confident that it’s going to be huge,” said Pritam Jalan of Jalan Distributors, the regional distributors for the film.

Dhoom:3 is releasing in 250-plus screens in Bengal and reportedly a record 4,000 screens in India, the highest ever for an Indian film.

At PVR and Cinemax, about “45 to 50 per cent” of the advance tickets had been sold out by Tuesday afternoon. “Trends indicate that all tickets for the weekend will be sold out before Friday. That last happened here with Salman Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger,” said Swaraj Sadhukhan, regional general manager, PVR-Cinemax.

“The advance sales have been very encouraging and should pick up even more by Wednesday-Thursday. The film has built a lot of curiosity and my gut feeling is that it will do excellent business, given that it’s the holiday season,” added Subhasis Ganguli, regional director, INOX.

At standalone cinemas like Menoka and Elite, weekend shows of the Yash Raj film have nearly been sold out.

Hoping to cash in on the craze, city plexes have “nominally” increased the prices of tickets, with a silver class ticket for Dhoom:3 at INOX (South City) priced Rs 350 for the weekend.

Besides Aamir’s presence, the curiosity factor has worked well for Dhoom:3. Unlike 2013 blockbusters Chennai Express and Krrish 3 that unleashed a marketing blitz before and after release, Dhoom:3 has chosen to play it down.

So no cross-country promotional tours, no TV show appearances and no mall-multiplex visits, a move that many believe could actually benefit the film. “The Aamir Khan brand name is enough to ensure that Dhoom:3 opens big,” trade analyst Adarsh said.

Actress June is among those looking forward to a date with Dhoom:3.“Hrithik Roshan was fantastic in Dhoom:2. I am looking forward to Aamir Khan doing those stunts. And Katrina is looking super hot,” she said.

The target for Dhoom:3 to surpass is Krrish 3’s Rs 256 crore. Before that, Chennai Express had collected Rs 226 crore.

The 4,000 screens should help Dhoom:3’s cause. But only until Salman storms in with Jai Ho in January.

BOLLY AT CHRISTMAS

Dabangg 2 (2012): Salman Khan returned as Chulbul Pandey to power the film to Rs 152 crore.

Don 2 (2011): The Shah Rukh Khan gangster franchise directed by Farhan Akhtar raked in
Rs 130 crore.

Tees Maar Khan (2010): Directed by Farah Khan, the Akshay Kumar comic thriller flopped.

3 Idiots (2009): Aamir merged message with mirth to give us a Rs 202crore blockbuster.

Ghajini (2008): Aamir’s magic worked for this action film, the first to make Rs 100 crore.