Cinema-goers flooded booking apps for advance tickets for Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Pathaan, which released on January 25.
In view of the enthusiastic response, industry experts had already predicted Shah Rukh Khan’s comeback film to open at Rs 45-50 crore at the box office.
“The movie, which has been dogged by controversy over the song Besharam, has contributed to the excitement, as fans will go to see it as a show of support for superstar Shah Rukh Khan. The film will be in strong contention to beat KGF-2’s record for the highest opening day,” film industry analyst Komal Nahta had said in an interview ahead of the release.
Beyond the blockbuster box office expectations, a significant development was also in store.
Film trade expert Taran Adarsh said that Pathaan will bring back single screens.
“Pathaan revives single screens. Pathaan is all set to revive theatrical business, going by the terrific advance booking. Most importantly, as many as 25 single screens across India, which were shut, will re-open with Pathaan this week, given the unprecedented buzz,” he said in a tweet.
Fans from all around the world anxiously awaited the release, as seen by the booking of an entire theatre for acid attack victims or the trailer of the film being featured at the Burj Khalifa.
With around 50,000 fans from all across the country attending the first screening of Pathaan, the film was guaranteed to have a magnificent debut even before the release.
On the eve of the release, Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan thanked fans for the response to his film and hosted a quick Q&A (question and answer) session with the Twitterati.
“A big hug to all for making Pathaan so loved. Those who danced, put up cut-outs, bought out halls, all fan clubs, [those who] made t-shirts, prayed, helped to ease issues and made it a festival. It’s good to be in theatres, it feels like home. A quick #AskSRK for fun,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Yash Raj Films project, which marked Shah Rukh’s return to the leading male role after 2018’s Zero, hit the cinema halls a day before the Republic Day, which gave the Hindi film a five-day extended opening weekend.
The advance bookings had opened on January 20. The film released across India on 5,000 screens. It is the first Shah Rukh film to have 6am shows. Pathaan advance booking has been the best for any Bollywood film surpassing War, Thugs of Hindostan and Brahmastra.
Pathaan is around KGF-2 and Baahubali-2 when it comes to the highest number of advance tickets for any film.
Adarsh further said that the film is set to revive Bollywood and will mark the beginning of a fantastic 2023 for the industry, which went through a lean period during Covid and in 2022.
Salman Khan will also be seen making a cameo in the role of a spy agent and the movie will link the protagonists of War (Kabir), Ek Tha Tiger (Tiger) and Pathaan (Pathaan)in the YRF Spy Universe.
In a statement, Sanjeev Kumar Bijli, Joint Managing Director, PVR Limited, said that they witnessed phenomenal advance booking at their 903 chains across India.
“We have a phenomenal opening of Pathaan with advances of close to five lakh admissions for the first long weekend of the movie. This will be the first SRK film that will open at 6am in PVR cinemas,” Bijli said.
According to leading ticketing platform BookMyShow (BMS), over one million tickets were already booked a day before the release.
The film has received ’12A’ rating from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).
The BBFC shared the rating for Pathaan on its official website along with detailed rating information. As per the rating system, no one younger than 12 can see a 12A film in a cinema unless accompanied by an adult.
The advance sales for Pathaan opened up in phases with over 3,500 screens.
“The response across India has been phenomenal with cinephiles choosing a cinematic experience as they opt for varied formats including 2D, IMAX and 4DX across cities,” Ashish Saksena, COO, Cinemas, BookMyShow, said in a statement.
Another leading multiplex chain INOX was optimistic about Pathaan breaking records.
“It is one of the best advances that we have had at INOX at our 722 screens across India. We had sold more than 1.5 lakh tickets for Wednesday and more than 3.5 lakh tickets till Sunday making it the best for any film post-pandemic.
“This film is going to break the advance booking of KGF 2 and will do a business of Rs 45 to 50 crore,” said Rajendra Singh Jyala, chief programming officer at multiplex chain INOX.
Shah Rukh had taken a break from movies after the lukewarm performance of Zero. In between, the actor only made cameo appearances in R Madhavan’s Rocketry: The Nambi Effect (Hindi version) and the Ayan Mukerji-directed blockbuster Brahmastra Part One: Shiva.
Not just multiplexes, the film enjoyed bumper advance booking in single screen theatres as well.
Mumbai’s popular single-screen theatre Gaiety, Galaxy and Maratha Mandir saw ticket bookings of 70% to 80%.
“For the first time, we are having morning shows starting from 9am for SRK fan clubs, who have almost booked the entire theatre,” Desai said, adding that the ticket prices have been kept nominal, i.e. in the range of Rs 130 to Rs 160.
It is also one of the first films from Bollywood that’s leading the charts in advance booking in southern parts of the country.
“South India has been particularly impressive showcasing an upward trajectory with Hyderabad, Chennai and Bengaluru contributing almost 30% of the overall advance sales so far.
“As the pace of ticket sales picks up further closer to the movie’s release date, we are confident that Pathaan is set to take the box office by storm,” Saksena had said ahead of the release.
Bijli too said the advance booking response from the South of India was very encouraging.
“The movie released in Tamil and Telugu [and] it has opened really well in Kerala in its original language of Hindi. It has been an encouraging response to out of home entertainment experience to families,” he added.
According to YRF, about 25 cinemas, which were shut down due to COVID-19, reopened for Pathaan given the unprecedented buzz.
Some of the theatres that opened the doors for patrons are: Kohinoor Cinema, Suratgarh (Rajasthan), Lajwanti Talkies Bishrampur (Chhattisgarh), Prabhat Talkies, Bina (Madhya Pradesh) and SGL Heritage Cinema, Almora (Uttarakhand), among others.
Directed by Siddharth Anand, Pathaan also features Deepika Padukone and John Abraham in lead roles.