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Rs 8 bn at stake as three blockbuster films jostle during festive season

Urvi Malvania/Mumbai 06 Nov 18 | 03:56 PM

Thugs of Hindostan poster | Photo: @TOHTheFilm

The Indian film industry has close to Rs 8 billion riding on three film releases in November and December this year. While festive season weekends have always attracted releases from the big guns of Bollywood and regional cinema, this year, the stakes are much higher.

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This year’s Diwali release – Yash Raj Films’ Thugs of Hindostan – is touted to be the most expensive Bollywood film ever with an estimated budget of Rs 2 billion. Releasing on November 8, the film boasts of a stellar star-cast including Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan and Katrina Kaif. The action adventure saga, set during the East India Company’s rule, has already sold digital streaming rights and satellite rights to Amazon Prime Video and Sony Pictures Networks India respectively.

Unlike Diwali releases in the previous years, Thugs of Hindostan will have just three weeks of clear run at the box office. Rajnikanth-Akshay Kumar starrer 2.0 (sequel to 2010’s Enthiran) releases on November 29. Shot in Tamil, the film will be available in multiple languages, including Hindi. This means Thugs of Hindostan will have to share screens with the new release, and given the anticipation for the Rajnikanth flick, the collections for the Diwali release will definitely take a hit.

Industry estimates peg the cost of 2.0 at Rs 4 billion, making it even more expensive than S S Rajamouli’s two part magnum opus Baahubali (Rs 4 billion in all).

Ending the year with yet another big budget offering will be Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Zero. With an estimated budget of Rs 1.8 billion, the film marks the first time Aanand Rai and Khan working together. This is Khan’s first release of the year, his last film being 2017’s Jab Harry Met Sejal. Khan plays an unconventional lead, that of a dwarf who is looking at marriage prospects. He is joined by Anushka Sharma, and Katrina Kaif, both playing joint female leads. The film is written by Himanshu Sharma, who has also penned Rai’s other directorial ventures like Tanu Weds Manu (2011), Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015) and Raanjhanaa (2013), all commercial hits.

Zero will see a big0ticket Hollywood film release on the same day – Warner Bros’ Aquaman which is part of the DC Extended Universe. The film stars Jason Mamoa (Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones) in the title role.

While Diwali and Christmas always attract big releases from Bollywood and regional cinema, this year, the two festivals fall within a month and a half of each other, hence increasing the density of big ticket releases in November and December. If previous years’ records are anything to go by, the Indian box office could be looking at a windfall over the next eight weeks as these three films take centrestage.

Festive period releases in 2018Film Estimated cost (Rs bn) StarringRelease dateThugs of Hindostan 2Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Katrina Kaif, Fatima Sana ShaikhNovember 82.0 4Rajnikanth, Akshay Kumar, Amy Jackson November 29Zero 1.8Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Katrina KaifDecember 21Source: Studio information and industry extenuates

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