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The Kashmir Files expected to enter 200 Cr club! The Best film of 2022

Mar 15, 2022

The Kashmir Files, a Hindi movie based on the exodus of the Pandit community from the Kashmir valley in the early months of the insurgency, has taken the box office by storm. Theatre owners are predicting the film will not only cross the Rs 100-crore mark in ticket sales, but go on to enter the Rs 200-crore club.Exhibitors said the film was showing no signs of slowing down, with weekday business expected to be higher than its opening weekend earnings.

Multiplex operator INOX Leisure, which has sold over 450,000 tickets to viewers of the The Kashmir Files, reported strong occupancy levels in cinemas.

“The occupancy on Sunday was over 88 percent during the full day on an average which you rarely see. This kind of occupancy, I remember, was during Baahubali 2. The film started with Rs 3.5 crore on Friday (day one of release) and by Saturday the film’s business was over Rs 8 crore and Sunday it reached over Rs 15 crore. Business is almost doubling every day. And Monday is looking the same as Sunday, which is rarely seen as weekdays are usually lower than weekends,” Rajender Singh Jyala, chief programming officer at INOX Leisure, told Moneycontrol.

Early estimates suggest that the March 11 release is likely to report business of around Rs 16 crore on the fourth day.

“It has already become a phenomenon. We started with 5,000 footfalls pan-India on day one which grew to 13,000 on the second day and on Sunday we did 24,000 for The Kashmir Files. It has been a surprise for everyone as on Monday, being a working day, the film has crossed over 35,000 footfalls in Miraj Cinemas. It is working with 70-75 percent occupancy in our theatres,” said Amit Sharma, managing director of Miraj Cinemas.

Game changer

Made at a cost of around Rs 8-10 crore, The Kashmir Files is ruling the box office despite being a small-budget venture.”We expect a Baahubali to do well but something like this performing like a blockbuster was unexpected. Since we started screening (the film), there has been no show that has gone empty. We started with one show, increased it to two and then three shows and all the three shows are sold out. This is a never seen kind of performance. We are looking at a first week of at least Rs 65-70 crore,” said exhibitor Vishek Chauhan, who runs the single-screen Roopbani Cinema in Bihar.

Hindi movie exhibitors have been waiting for a blockbuster like this, Chauhan said.

“While films in the south were taking a strong start at the box office, we hadn’t got such a film yet (this year). While Gangubai Kathiawadi did reasonable business, it is The Kashmir Files that is healing the wounds of the exhibition business. We were mere spectators but The Kashmir Files has changed that and even we are seeing packed auditoriums,” he added.

In 2022, too, Bollywood was forced to postpone new film releases because of the third wave of COVID-19, which caused exhibitors in the north to do little to no business.

Multiplex chains like PVR and INOX had predicted that business in January and February would be muted because of deferred releases. The recovery rate in the fourth quarter of financial year 2022 is expected to slow to 30 percent of pre-COVID levels from 60 percent in the third quarter.

‘Sleeper blockbuster’

But it looks like sleeper hits like The Kashmir Files directed by Vivek Agnihotri can be a game changer for exhibition business.

INOX’s Jyala said that it was the quickest revival experienced by the industry in two years of the pandemic.

Chauhan said The Kashmir Files had struck a chord with a wide range of movie films.

“The film does not have a saleable male lead, director or songs. I have heard of similar stories breaking out in China and doing good business, but this is unprecedented. Witnessing people from all age groups. People have remained in their seats even after the movie ended and they are coming out of the theatre speechless. The film has invented a new term — it is a sleeper blockbuster,” said Chauhan.

He said the movie would be tough competition for the upcoming big Bollywood venture Bachchan Pandey starring Akshay Kumar that will hit the theatre on March 18.

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