Diwali day usually does not have audience flocking in large numbers, but this Diwali has brought prosperity to multiplex owners with over 85 per cent occupancy on Friday. All leading theatre chains are running to packed houses on Saturday and Sunday.
"However, it is the evening and night shows on Friday that have relatively lesser occupancy, Friday being the Diwali day," said Gautam Datta, head-marketing, PVR Cinemas.
Shringar Cinemas, Adlabs Films, Cinemax India, Inox Leisure are all celebrating as industry estimates the Diwali releases to be the biggest opening for 2008.
"Even though the advance bookings of Om Shanti Om opened on Wednesday, it has soon caught up with Saawariya," said Tushar Dhingra, COO, Adlabs Cinemas.
Agrees Devang Sampat, vice-president marketing and programming, Cinemax India, "With the advance bookings for Saawariya opening last Sunday, the film has resgistered over 60 per cent in advance bookings for Friday, while Om Shanti Om will soon match up and as of now has over 50 per cent bookings."
The face-off between Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Shah Rukh Khan will come to an end with the Hindi flicks hitting the silver screen on November 9. However, which of the two will sizzle on screen for a long innings is what the trade awaits to know.
Inox Lesiure expects to rake in around Rs 4 crore (Rs 40 million) in the first three days from both the films together across its 19 properties and 75 screens.
On the other hand, Cinemax India is expecting to earn nearly Rs 2 crore (Rs 20 million) across its 14 properties and 42 screens. Sources beleive that PVR Cinemas with its 89 screens across 23 properties will easily earn over Rs 4.5 crore over the weekend.
Bollywood is betting on the two releases which are expected to mop over Rs 180 crore (Rs 1.80 billion) together from the domestic boxoffice this year - 25 to 30 per cent of expected full-year collections from big-banner Bollywood films this year.
Box office collections till date have been around Rs 350 crore (Rs 3.5 billion). This year's hits include Abhishek Bachchan's Guru (which made Rs 40 crore), Salman Khan and Govinda starrer Partner (Rs 60 crore) and Heyy Babyy with trio Akshay Kumar, Fardeen Khan and Riteish Deshmukh (Rs 45-50 crore).