Rustom races ahead at box-office despite limited shows

We are looking at a business of Rs 100 crore, says producer Nitin Keni  

By Manishaa R

Despite the fact that exhibitors were faced with the prospect of alloting more shows to Mohenjo Daro and limiting Rustom due to their contract with Disney, it is the Akshay Kumar starrer that has finally scored at the box-office registering an overwhelming response in its first two days collections.  The latest tally of box-office figures indicates that Rustom is heading for the Rs 50 crore mark in its opening weekend, while Mohenjo Daro has earned Rs 30.54 crores, despite its encouraging response on Sunday at Rs 12.07 crore. According to Pune exhibitor and owner of City Pride multiplex, Prakash Chaphalkar, while the business of Rustom is above average, Mohenjo Daro has got a mediocre response. “The movie has not lived up to the expectations of audiences, though we will have to wait and watch how it fares in the coming few days. It is a mix between Baahubali and Bajirao Mastani and the heroine is new too. In comparison, Akshay Kumar’s Rustom has got a positive response from the audiences.”

The bigger disappointment is among single-screen exhibitors, some of whom had scheduled Mohenjo Daro in three out of four shows, owing to their contract with Disney-UTV. According to Nitin Datar, President of COEAI (Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India), exhibitors may reduce the shows of Mohenjo Daro and substitute it with Rustom in consultation with distributors, if Mohenjo Daro does not sustain at the box-office in the coming few days, “Frankly it is a no-show as far as single screen theatres are concerned. Rustom is doing better than Mohenjo Daro at the multiplexes but it is not the kind of film that can have a great going in single screens.”

According to Manoj Desai, Executive Director of G-7 multiplex and Maratha Mandir, “Though Rustom is performing excellently; we had great expectations from Mohenjo Daro. For some reason, the movie has not appealed to the audiences, though extensive research has gone into the making of the film. I would be happier scheduling Rustom in more number of shows looking at its business.” However it is the producer of Rustom, who is having his last laugh. Nitin Keni, CEO, Zee Studios says, “Disney-UTV used their leverage to book more than 3000 screens for Mohenjo Daro but we believed in strategically positioning our film and limited it to 2300 screens. The point is not the number of screens and shows but the occupancy rate. We got an edge in the better occupancy in multiplexes.”  Keni admits that they were not anxious about the film being allotted lesser number of shows in single screen theatres, since it was essentially a multiplex film, “We were not worried about the single screens. Rustom is not the typical high on action Akshay Kumar film, nor is it a marquee film. It is more of a court room drama and an intellectual film, so we knew it would appeal best to the multiplex audiences. We knew that this would actually go in our favour.” Keni is counting on the film to continue with its success story at the box-office, “We are looking at a business of Rs 100 crore and above. It could well be one of Akshay Kumar’s highest grossing films,” he says. However Keni is hoping that both the films eventually get their due at the box-office, “I would be happier if both the films do well. I am sure Mohenjo Daro would still pick up in the days to come,” he quips.