CHENNAI: Rajinikanth’s Darbar, releasing on Thursday, is expected to have a free run of at least a week in the box-office before the superstar’s son-in-law Dhanush mounts a challenge with his Pattas, releasing on January 16. The AR Murugadoss-directorial is releasing in over 7,000 screens across the world, twice the number of screens in which Rajini’s last Pongal outing, Petta, saw a release and just shy of the 9,000 screens that played Baahubali 2.
Darbar, made at a rumoured budget of Rs 200 crore, is set in Mumbai and stars a host of Hindi actors, including Suneil Shetty, which is expected to help its performance in the Hindi belt. According to chief operating officer R Kannan of Lyca Productions’, Darbar’s producer and distributor, the film has one of the highest marketing budgets in Tamil cinema.
“We are spending nearly Rs 8 crore to promote the film as we are expecting it to be the biggest-ever hit in Rajini sir’s career,” he said. Kannan said the cop drama is slated for release in several small centres where Tamil films have not been released so far.
“We are releasing Darbar in 4,000 screens in India. The overseas market will account for another 3,000 screens approximately. This will include some minor islands that are usually overlooked. Our goal is to reach as many people as possible,” he said.
Veteran distributor Tirupur Subramanyam predicted a phenomenal opening for Darbar. “It’s a solo release... Also, it’s been almost three weeks since we had an interesting release in Tamil,” he said, adding that it was a smart move to release the film ahead of the Pongal holidays.”Fans will ensure 95 per cent of first day shows are full and the families will start filling the screens from Saturday. The Friday in between won’t see a major dip in the collection as most of theatres have opted to avoid special shows and go with regular schedules that day,” he noted.
Vettri Theatres owner Rakesh Gowthaman, said that although bookings were on par for a Rajini film, they were lower than for Petta. “The rivalry with Ajit’s Viswasam worked in Petta’s favour. As it is a solo release, Darbar is getting screened in small theatres in some interior areas. Perhaps this has affected the pre-booking in city theatres. Having said that, Darbar’s bookings are still better than 2.0 and Kaala,” he said. Amid reports of a ban on special early-morning shows, police have clarified that it is entirely up to the government to issue permission for a special show.
Theatre owners, however, said that things aren’t clear yet. Most fans are nonetheless positive 4 am shows will be allowed in the last minute, with sources from Mayajaal saying there would be a show. (With inputs from Navein Darshan and Ashameera Aiyappan)