While many stars need a holiday release to maximise returns, it seems a Rajini release is a holiday unto itself. 2.0, India's first fully shot in 3D film, is the star's biggest film to date. The Shankar-directorial also stars a big Bollywood name in Akshay Kumar.
The film has surpassed Baahubali 2: The Conclusion in the total number of screens it is getting released in globally, with over 10,000 screens purportedly screening 2.0 as against the 9,000 for Baahubali.
Veteran distributor Tirupur Subramanyam calls this the 'best advance booking ever' for a Rajini film, surpassing Kaala, Kabali, Linga and Kochaidaiyaan. "This is the largest release in Tamil Nadu for sure. 700-800 screens will be showcasing only 2.0, of which 400-450 are screening it in 3D. All those screens which are showing it in 3D are sold out for the first day.
"You have to remember, unlike Sarkar, this is a weekday we are talking about. A good test would be to look at Sunday bookings, which as things stand are almost 80 per cent full. We also have to thank the Tamil Nadu government which has said that we can have five shows on weekdays and six on weekends," he said.
Trade Analyst Atul Mohan, who tracks the numbers in North India, says the booking numbers, while phenomenal for Tamil, are not as big as expected in Hindi.
"We are still awaiting the numbers from single screens, but as of now Thursday is almost sold out, while it is 80-90 per cent filled on Friday. But nothing much has moved on the weekend front. Robot was one of the best grossers for Hindi industry, onscreen as well as satellite rights, and cracked the market for a regional film. Opening day numbers of 50 crore for Baahubali and 500 crore overall in Hindi alone still remains the barometer, but I think once 2.0 opens, it should at least touch, if not surpass, Baahubali."
GK Cinemas owner Ruben, one of only two theatres in Chennai to have the cutting edge 4DSRL technology, says, "The hype might not be visible from outside, but it is very much evident at the ticket counter. Given the factors that are at play, like the Gaja cyclone and the relatively low-key promotions, the bookings are much more than we expected. We are playing the film on both screens, and we expect one screen to sell out completely on weekends."
Sathesh Thulasi of Qube cinemas says that as things stand, the numbers of 2.0 should be at least 10 per cent better than Baahubali. "But what is staggering is the amount of versions we are releasing the film in - two audio formats (ATMOS and 4DSRL), three video formats (2D, 3D, IMAX 3D), and three languages, with subtitled as well as non-subtitled versions, Saudi cut, Malaysian cut, etc. Worldwide, there are 40 different versions of 2.0, while in India alone, there are 36 versions. No other Indian film has done this."
While this is fantastic in itself, Sathesh points out that what's more significant is the change that this film has brought about in the industry. "Over the past month, over 250 screens have converted to 3D screens, with Tamil Nadu alone accounting for over 100 screens."
(This article was first published in Cinema Express)