The question that has been vexing millions of Indian cinemagoers for two years was answered on Friday in thousands of theatres across the country that screened the mega opus “Baahubali 2: The Conclusion.”
The long-awaited sequel to the 2015 multilingual drama by director S S Rajamouli received a rousing reception with trade analysts predicting its day one collection at Rs 70 to 75 crore nationwide.
“The advance booking is crazy; there are corporate bookings of 100-200 seats. There is a repeat value for this film. The opening day collections should be at Rs 70 crore in all the languages. It’s all set to create history with the film earning Rs 230-240 crore over the weekend,” a Mumbai- based exhibitor Akshay Rathi told PTI.
Fans, however, had to miss the morning shows in some theatres in Tamil Nadu due to an alleged financial dispute between the producers and the distributors. The film hit the screens just after 11 AM.
The release of the film was preceded by a publicity blitz that blanketed TV screens, magazines and streets. The massive expectations created by the publicity climaxed on Friday when fans started queuing up outside theatres as early as 5 AM.
“I came at 5 AM. I got a ticket for the second show (night show). I wanted a ticket for matinee or first show. But I am happy that I got a ticket,” Anusha, a college student, in Hyderabad, said.
Such was the frenzy surrounding the film that fans skipped schools and offices to watch the first day first show of the movie with many coughing up to Rs 1,500 to buy the tickets in black in different parts of the country.
Rajamouli, actress Anushka Shetty and music director MM Keeravani visited a theatre screening of the movie in Hyderabad to gauge the response of the audience.
Fans of Prabhas, who plays the lead role of Baahubali, put up huge cutouts of the popular star to celebrate the release of the film. Outside cinemas, fans poured milk on the cutouts, copying religious rituals reserved for gods.
A fan of Prabhas in Hyderabad attended the screening dressed as him and reached the cinema hall on a horse with a camel in tow.
Online booking website, BookMyShow, said they had sold over a million tickets in just 24 hours in advance sales, breaking the record set by Aamir Khan-starrer “Dangal”.
In Delhi, major cinema chains like PVR and Inox have allocated 80 per cent of its total capacity to “Baahubali 2”.
“PVR has allocated close to 80 per cent of its total capacity to ‘Baahubali 2’ in India as well as in Delhi. The film has taken a phenomenal start, the occupancy is expected to be 85 per cent for day one for entire PVR chain,” Kamal Gianchandani, CEO PVR Pictures, told PTI.
The morning shows in most of the theatres in Delhi were houseful, said Joginder Mahajan, film distributor and treasurer of Motion Pictures Association in Delhi and UP.
He is also expecting the film to do a business of approximately Rs 75 crore on day one.
The Telangana government has allowed five shows of the film to be screened following a request from the producers.
In Karnataka, fans reportedly paid up to Rs 1,600 per ticket to watch the film. As much as 75 per cent of screens available in the state are showing the film.
In Bengaluru alone, 72 of the 94 single screen theatres were screening it, trade experts said. In Mysuru, as many as 40 screens out of 45 are showing “Baahubali 2”.
The Kannada film fraternity is pushing for the implementation of a budgetary proposal to peg the ticket prices at Rs 200 in single screen theatres and multiplexes.
In Kerala, producer-distributor Prem Menon of Global United Media, predicted the film will shatter all the existing box office records in the state.
“It has released in 310 screens (142 in Malayalam and the rest in Tamil) and we are still counting. Theatres across the state had scheduled close to 60 early morning shows today. We are expecting the film to gross Rs 5 crore in Kerala, which will be a record,” he told PTI.
Malayalam star Mammootty’s recent outing “The Great Father” holds the record of the highest day one opening with an approximate gross of Rs 4.7 crore.
Menon had released the first part in 180 screens.
In Mumbai, the ticket prices started as low as Rs 200 and went up to Rs 1,500.
Trade analyst Komal Nahta says the Hindi version itself is all set to create new benchmarks.
“The opening day looks like 40 crore plus for Hindi version and the weekend will be more than 100 crore. The film is destined to make history and it is going to break every single record – opening day, weekend, first week and so on,” he said.
Nahta says going by the positive word-of-mouth across the board, the film will challenge existing record holders from Bollywood such as “Sultan”, “PK” and “Dangal”.
The film is doing exceptionally well even in the single screen theatres in Mumbai.
“The audience is enjoying and loving the film. It’s going houseful and we have advance booking till Tuesday,” Manoj Desai, executive director of Gaiety, Galaxy and Maratha Mandir cinema, said.
The first part had collected Rs 650 crore (gross) at the worldwide box office. The two-part series, made at a budget of Rs 450 crore, also stars Rana Daggubati, Tammaanah Bhatia, Ramya Krishnan and Sathyaraj.