The wait was worth the weight in gold. Sooryavanshi, Rohit Shetty and Akshay Kumar's first film together, is a certifiable blockbuster.
Collections from all over the country are far better and bigger than expected.
The Rohit Shetty cops-and-terrorists action-comedy registered the second highest collections for an Akshay Kumar starrer.
According to Boxoffice India, for Rohit Shetty it is the fourth best opening day after Singham Returns, Chennai Express and Golmaal Again.
Considering the Covid restrictions this is highly encouraging for the movie-theatre business.
Trade guru and box office expert Taran Adarsh is gung-ho about the roaring collections. "Well it is a fantastic start. Sooryavanshi has revived the Hindi film industry. It has infused oxygen in the lungs of the ailing film industry. It's a very, very, positive sign. We are at the moment looking at Rs 27 crores (Rs 270 million) as the first day's collection. This, despite Maharashtra, the largest box office contributor, only being allowed fifty percent occupancy."
Taran sees a bright future for the ailing movie business. "It's a great revival we are witnessing right now. In the coming weeks we will see a lot of good things happening to the movie business. Good content will always triumph. I would say, not just movies," Adarsh asserts, "but cinemas are back."
"Last year there were so many sceptics saying people don't want to go back to movie theatres. They have all been proven wrong," he adds. "Big screen entertainers, the experience of watching movies on the wide screen can never fail."
Says producer-director Suneel Darshan (who directed Akshay Kumar in Jaanwar considered a turning point in the actor's career), "The rousing opening day reception to Sooryavanshi has come like a torrential downpour to the auditoriums that were parched since over 21 months!"
Girish Johar, producer and trade analyst, feels producers like Reliance Entertainment(Sooryavanshi) and Salman Khan(Antim: The Final Truth) who waited for the theatres to re-open, were on the right track.
"The patience of makers has paid off. The fantastic opening of Sooryavanshi has assured it a hit status already. Despite capacity restrictions the audiences have thronged to theatres on Day 1. This resurrects our faith in entertaining cinema," says Johar.
"Sooryavanshi's opening has ruled out all theories that OTT would affect theatrical business," says Bihar's prominent movie distributor Kishan Damani. "The audience were just waiting to be back to theatres and with Sooryavanshi the same has been proved. Nothing can ever replace the theatrical experience."
Trade analyst Amod Mehra, however, cautions against over-optimism. "I would advise everyone to wait till Monday before celebrating."
Please click on the images to better view audiences returning to cinema halls.
IMAGE: People watch Sooryavanshi at a screening at India's first open air rooftop drive-in cinema in Mumbai. All Photographs: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters
IMAGE: A movie theatre screening Sooryavanshi in Mumbai.
IMAGE: Audiences watch Sooryavanshi at a cinema in Mumbai. Theatres in Maharashtra have been permitted only 50% seating.
IMAGE: People queue to enter a cinema in Mumbai to watch Sooryavanshi.