Thank goodness, Aditya Chopra is still capable of running his life and business! As trailer after trailer came out for Befikre, I kept thinking “really, Adi? You are betting the farm on this….thing?” But nope! He isn’t betting the farm, he is just betting, like, that one cow that doesn’t give very good milk any more.
According to BollywoodHungama reports, Adi is keeping the screen count under 3 thousand for India, focusing on multiplexes and urban areas. And under 800 overseas. Plus, the original budget was only 70 crore, including promotions.
Let’s do some comparison here. Budget for Fan and Sultan was reported at 90 crore, including promotions. Screen count for Fan was 3500, Sultan was about the same. This is what a Big Yash Raj Release looks like. Befikre is not a big release for them (although those same numbers would mean a big release for almost any other studio).
You know why Befikre is not a big release? Not because it doesn’t have an All India kind of plot, but because it doesn’t have an All India kind of star. Or, put it another way, it doesn’t have an All India plot OR an All India star.
Fan was, as we all know, hideously unpopular and off-putting and unpleasant (while also brilliant). But it was also a Shahrukh Khan movie. And therefore Adi gave it the big budget and the big release. And that paid off.
(It’s Shahrukh Khan singing about Shahrukh Khan. This is the only selling point for the film)
Fan dropped off incredibly once the word of mouth hit the streets. But thanks to the promotions, and the wide release, word of mouth wasn’t fast enough. Opening day box office alone (plus satellite rights) almost put it in the black. They just had to con a few more die hard Shahrukh fans (like me!) into coming back a few times over the next few weeks, and they had a small profit margin.
See, that’s the thing, most producers only have one dollar goal in their film releases. They say “what is the reasonable amount to expect? That is how many screens I will take and how much I will spend on promotion.” Adi has two goals:
- What is the reasonable maximum to expect, what would I need to put this film in the “Win” column?
- What is the bare minimum I need to break even?
He shoots for the first, but he makes sure he will always always get the second. So, with this small Befikre budget, and targeted multiplex release, I am guessing Adi figured out down to the rupee that he will make exactly 71 crore through satellite rights and selling at least 20% occupancy in these particular theaters.
I am also interested in what this says about Ranveer. Bajirao was a MASSIVE success, and a lot of that was due to Ranveer. But I think (and I think Adi thinks this too), that even more of the success was due to the story and the presentation and the film as a whole.
(Ranveer’s great in this song, but you remember the costumes and the camera angles and all the other stuff just as much as you remember him, right?)
Befikre does not have a story and a presentation and a film as a whole that is going to be enough to make it a hit. And without that, Ranveer isn’t enough to guarantee the kind of opening that you get with a Khan film. Well, not yet. I have hope for the boy, give him a few more years. But not yet.