Baahubali 2 Day Before Release! News From The Front!

Happy 24 hours to Baahubali 2!  24 hours worldwide, by the way.  Every showtime I can see around me starts at 2:30pm on the nose on Thursday, which is midnight Friday in India.  This is what I love about film bringing us together, all over the world, at the exact same second, the lights will go down and people will watch Baahubali together.

I’m not going to be at that 2:30/midnight show, because I have a stupid job.  But I am going to the 5:30 show, so I will still be synched up with all those people worldwide who couldn’t get tickets to the very first showing and are coming in exactly 3 hours later for the next show.

I can’t find reliable figures for the number of screens worldwide, in India it is supposedly 6000 to 8000 screens (Indian figures are always very hard to pin down).  But in my area, it is playing on every screen, all 6 of them, at my all Indian theater.  And I am going to see it at one of those theaters that almost never plays Indian films, I think I’ve only see Fan and Raees and Sultan there.

Image result for evanston century theater

(This theater.  They do regular big releases, and sometimes more arty stuff, and only Indian once in a blue moon)

What I find most interesting is that the big chain near me, AMC, still hasn’t posted any showtimes.  It regularly plays every Indian release in at least one, sometimes more, theaters.  Baahubali 2 is currently listed as “coming soon”, but now showtimes as of the last time I checked.

I wonder if this is because of pricing?  That theater where I am seeing it, which is a regular old “white people” theater and usually sticks the Indian films in some backroom like they are ashamed of them, they are charging $25 a ticket.  Which they have never done before!

But then, they’ve also never shown a southern release there before.  Southern releases, at least in America, are different in a couple of ways from the Hindi releases.  They only play in certain theaters.  And they play there regularly.  It’s not a “oh, why not set aside one screen once every few months” kind of thing like it is for the occasional Hindi film, it’s a regular every single Friday routine.  To have a southern release that breaks out of that rut, that spreads to all kinds of theaters with the confidence that the audience will follow, that is remarkable.

The language part is remarkable as well.  I mean, just having a release that is dubbed in Hindi is a big deal.  The Tamil/Telugu simul-release, that doesn’t seem as unheard of from what I know.  But to have all three languages available at mainstream theaters is crazy!

That means not just that they know the audience will be able to fill every screen in every language, but that they will care enough about the experience to want to make sure to see it in the language they understand best.  Usually with the American audience, seeing a Tamil or Telugu release is about actually being able to understand and appreciate the subtlety of the language for about 50% of the audience.  For the remaining 50%, it is about the particular industry, not the language itself or the language alone.  I mean, knowing the actors, the directors, appreciating certain aspects of the industrial style.

But look at this!  People want to see it in the language they best understand, so they can get every possible meaning out of it.  It is the exact same movie, with the same industry specific actors and style and everything else, and yet the audience will presumably natural divide into their own language groups.  Even me, I picked Tamil because of the showtime, but I would have preferred Hindi (because I could pay less attention to subtitles) or Telugu, so I could experience the performance in the language the actors/writers were most comfortable with.

And the final thing that I find amazing is the pricing!  I didn’t know myself until a few years ago about the sliding pricing for southern films.  For opening day, or opening week, or sometimes the first few weeks, the prices are double or triple what they are usually.  That’s part of the experience, if you come opening night or opening week, you come ready for an experience, a sold-out theater, cheering crowds, sometimes special higher quality snacks available, and fancy dressed audience members.  That’s why you pay the extra money, not just to see the film a few days early.

Image result for baahubali in theater

(Okay, it’s fun in America, but it’s not as fun as it is in India)

There’s no particular reason other film industries couldn’t use this same pricing.  I’ve heard that it’s already standard for Khan films, for instance, to be priced a few dollars higher than other films.  But this massive gap between opening day/week and the rest of the run, from what I understand, that is unique to southern films.

And now it is spreading into theaters that have never used this before!  I honestly don’t even know if the cash registers are programmed for higher prices at these theaters.  Back when I was working box office at a theater a few years ago, we just had 3 buttons, matinee rate, regular rate, and senior/student rate.  We would have had to reprogram the whole system to allow for a sliding scale.

But Baahubali 2 might do it, it might be the film to get all these theaters to experience the wonders of that opening night fever, with the crazy crowds bringing a little bit of India to America.  And what really gets me excited is that Baahubali 2 might be the film that brings that little bit of India to the American film industry altogether.  Considering the number of screens, and the enormous prices, and the 2:30pm Thursday/midnight Friday India time opening which gives it a 3 day weekend, Baahubali 2 has a decent shot of breaking into the top 3 of the American box office.  Which might FINALLY force the mainstream industry press to acknowledge that Indian films exist!  They’ve been breaking into the top 10 of the American box office for the past 20 years, but that doesn’t stop them from being ignored.  But to break into the top 3, people would have to talk about that, right?

 

Anyway, that’s how things look to me in Chicago.  How about you?  are you seeing the same patterns in your areas?  Playing in theaters that don’t usually play southern films, playing in multiple languages in the same theater, and with super super expensive prices?

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20 thoughts on “Baahubali 2 Day Before Release! News From The Front!

  1. I can’t go until Sunday evening at 6:20, so I’ll probably be offline trying to avoid spoilers starting from tomorrow 🙂

    Here’s what I found on the worldwide screen count though I think this is just an estimate:

    There are 2 or 3 theaters in the area that are showing Baahubali for which I haven’t seen them play any other Indian movie. But other than that, most of the theaters have shown Indian movies quite regularly. One weird thing is that the one theater that has always shown Telugu movies ever since I can remember doesn’t seem to be showing Baahubali 2. I’m wondering whether if they are slow to post their showtimes because they have been traditionally the one theater that shows Telugu cinema. Over the past couple of years, the number of different theaters that are showing Indian cinema has really increased. Back in 2015, there would only be 3 theaters that showed Telugu or Hindi movies and we would have to go half an hour to the closest one. But since then I’ve seen movies in theaters that are just five minutes away.

    From my experience, the premiere shows (Thursday night) of Telugu movies have the highest pricing and then it drops a bit for the first weekend. And based on how well the movie is doing, the second week prices drop a bit more or stay the same. These huge prices are only for the big budget/big star movies. But at the same time, I’ve never seen a Telugu movie ticket being sold for less than $10.

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    • I’ve been checking prices for next week, because I have a bunch of friends that want to see it but don’t want to pay $20-$40, and I was hoping we could go on Monday or something. What I am seeing in my area is that the “traditional” Telugu theaters have it for $25 and up every single show through Wednesday. Including matinees and weekdays.

      But AMC FINALLY put up their showtimes and prices, and they have it at $15. Which I think is what they charge for 3D films and special one night only type events? So I honestly do think it might have been a programming issue! Like, their cash registers aren’t even set up to charge more than $15 for a movie ticket. And again, exact same prices every single show every single day until Wednesday.

      Interesting about the increasing number of theaters in your area. It’s an odd increase/decrease balance around me. I think the number of screens showing Indian films is increasing, but the over all number of movie theaters is decreasing. So there is no longer a movie theater showing Indian movies within 5 miles of me, but that’s mostly because there is no movie theater at all within 5 miles. But almost all the theaters that remain (which I have to travel an hour to get to) do show Indian films. And every one of those theaters has Baahubali, even the one I am going to, which barely even shows Hindi and has never shown regional before.

      On Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 4:42 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Well, it looks like everyone is trying to take advantage of the hype and jack up the prices. If even the weekdays are priced that high, then I wouldn’t expect the prices to go any lower during the second weekend. Well, at least AMC is charging lower. That’s really interesting that a large chain like AMC would have a programming issue though. That would mean that they are losing to their competion right. I mean, I’m paying $26 to see Baahubali at Cinemark.

        I actually don’t know whether the number of movie theaters is actually increasing or not, but it doesn’t seem like any that I know of have closed down. Maybe it’s different because I live in a suburb while you live closer to the city?

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        • Definitely because I live in a city. Big multiplexes keep opening, and then two smaller theaters shut down from the competition. Which means all the ones that used to be easier to get to for me are shutting up, but once I drive for an hour, I can see pretty much anything.

          On Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 6:07 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Are the smaller theaters that shut down usually independent theaters? Also for you is how much distance is driving an hour? I mean is the time usually because of the traffic or because of the actual distance.

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          • It’s the public transit theaters that take so long. Well, first I should explain that one of the 3 independent theaters left in the city (3 seems like a lot, but when I was in college ten years ago it was 8) is actually just a five minute walk from my apartment, but I can’t go there because it is the theater I worked at for 3 years and it is too weird to go back! The next closest theater is only 3 miles away, but I have to transfer to the suburban train line to get there, so it takes longer by public transit. That’s the one that is showing Baahubali but usually doesn’t show Hindi.

            When I was in college, there was a funky theater in a shopping center a little outside of downtown that showed all the Hindi releases (that’s where I saw Paheli and Welcome). Then it closed down, and the Hindi films moved to the smaller of two multiplexes right off the big fancy shopping area (Gold Coast/Magnificent Mile in Chicago neighborhood terms). That’s where I saw Don and Jaan-E-Mann and Don 2 and Ra.One. Then that theater turned fancy, it’s one of those eat in theaters now. And now all the Indian films play at the huge 18 screen multiplex, the biggest theater in the city. Which is 20 miles and an hour train ride away from me. Anyway, the point is that Hindi films have been playing somewhere in the downtown area of the city for over 10 years, they just keep migrating theater to theater as their previous homes shut down.

            The real loss is the small mall theater that was 15 minutes drive away from me. They haven’t played an Indian movie since gosh-darn Fitoor (NEVER FORGET!). And they closed entirely about 2 months after that and haven’t re-opened yet. So now I can either ride the train for an hour to see the downtown show, or drive for an hour and give money to the all Indian theater way way out in the suburbs. The Indian theater is a lot more fun, and I’d rather be driving home at midnight than training home, so the choice is clear.

            You probably aren’t interested in this, but so long as I am going this whole thing, I might as well finish the thought. Purely in terms of Indian films in my area, a lot of it is because of immigration patterns. Chicago, with O’Hare airport and all, is a massive gateway city for immigrants. So starting in the 1970s, when immigration from South Asia to America really took off, we suddenly had thousands and thousands of South Asian immigrants arriving in the city. As new immigrants, they didn’t have much money, and they wanted to sort of cluster together, in communities where you could speak the language you knew best, and buy the food you were used to in grocery stores, and have your local language newspapers, and all that. So they took over the Devon avenue area near me, where the rents were cheap, and turned it into little India/Pakistan/Bangladesh (there are literally separate areas for each of those countries, with specific roads dividing them out, and each has their own grocery and so on). When I was in college, every storefront for a mile was full, and there were 5 separate movie stores. But just in the past ten years, that has started to change. The first 1970s generation has been aging out, and their children are coming up, raised in the US, with degrees from American schools and so on. More and more they are moving to the suburbs. Which is what always happens with immigration, the same thing happened with my family from Germany, started in a totally German area of the city and then in 3 generations was living in a nice house in the suburbs. Which means the two theaters right by Devon that used to show Indian films closed down in the late 90s/early 2000s, and there are now only two movie stores for me to pick from. But more and more suburban theaters are picking up the films, and more and more suburban strip malls have those little Indian storefronts with groceries and bangles and DVDs behind the counter.

            On Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 9:37 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • That’s really interesting about the Desi-concentrated area in Chicago. I don’t know if such area exists in Dallas actually. I doubt it because it seems like most of the Indians arrived in Dallas in the 1990s but I don’t have much factual evidence to back that claim. But the city that I live in and the surrounding suburbs have more of a Desi population than the other parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

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  2. Interesting how the showings break out near me. The Cinemark theater close to my house is showing it in Telugu and Tamil and on IMAX.

    On Friday, the AMC and the Regal theaters that usually show big Hindi films have it on multiple screens in Hindi. The Regal has a big RPX theater which is their closest thing to IMAX that will screen Bahubali 2 in the Hindi. The prices even for the RPX is $18.90.

    At the Cinemark, the non-IMAX screenings actually have different prices based on the language – Tamil is $20 on Friday night, while the Telugu is $23. At the same theater! Isn’t that wild?

    The IMAX prices are also different, and they have a showing in Hindi on the IMAX Friday that is only $25, while the Telugu is $33 on Friday.

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  3. I just read that Vinod Khanna has died of cancer. I guess a little sobering news is needed to tone down the Bahubali hysteria. 😦

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    • Thanks for the heads up! I’ll have to do a special Hindi Film 101 for him today.

      On Thu, Apr 27, 2017 at 3:26 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Pingback: Vinod Khanna Death Reverberations – dontcallitbollywood

  5. On a lighter note, I told my friends at my Bollywood dance class last night about going to the first showing today. My teacher said her young then four year old son walked all over the house carrying a big bean bag chair on his shoulder just like Prabhas carrying the linga. He insisted on the music playing and then for his father to act as Kattappa. Adorable!!

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    • That’s such a cute story! I currently know a four year old who told her mom that she wanted to be a pretty princess like Tamannah in Dheevara 🙂

      Rajamouli’s films have always enthralled children as far as I know. I was around nine years old when Yamadonga came out and it was one of the favorites for me and my friends. My best friend’s little brother was two years old at that time and he used to watch Yamadonga every day for a while. Similarly, we all loved Magadheera as well. My friends and I were obsessed with the songs and how pretty Kajal was at the time. Eega too was very popular with us, and there was a time when we would watch either Eega or Dookudu at every single get-together.

      Liked by 1 person

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