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November 2, 1999
Hum Saath Saath Hain Gets 60-Screen Welcome
Aseem Chhabra in New York
The desi movie business in North America has been steeped in gloom for over six weeks with the disappointing earnings of films like Mast and Dil Kya Kare. Now it hopes for a boost on Friday, November 5, when Eros Entertainment releases Rajshri Production's Hum Saath Saath Hain on over 60 screens.
Initially, the movie was to open on 50 screens but exhibitors are apparently convinced of the movie's wide appeal.
Talking about the wide distribution of Hum Saath, Behram Shahparast, a spokesperson for Eros, said that Regal Cinemas, a multiplex in North Bergen, New Jersey will release the film on all of its 13 screens. This summer's huge hit, Subhash Ghai's Taal, which has grossed about $ 2.1 million in North America, also opened on all 13 screens at Regal Cinemas.
Village VII cinema, a multiplex in Hempstead, Long Island will show Hum Saath on all of its seven screens. This is the first time the theater is showing a movie on all its screens the same week.
In Indianapolis and Toronto, the film will be shown on giant IMAX screens.
This would be the biggest opening for any Bollywood film in North America. Taal and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam each opened on more than 40 screens.
The worldwide release of Hum Saath Saath Hain is going to coincide with the Diwali weekend, the biggest movie-going season in India.
Eros Entertainment says it is treating the film like "one the biggest films of the millennium." However, other than giving the film a wide opening, the distribution company is does not have any major marketing plans to sell the film.
"Basically, the movie is selling itself," Shahparast. "It is a highly anticipated movie."
He was referring to the fact that it is directed by Sooraj R Barjatya, whose last two films, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun and Maine Pyar Kiya are among all-time top-ranking blockbuster hits in India, the United Kingdom and North America.
Hum Saath stars some of the top movie names from Bollywood -- Salman Khan, Karishma Kapoor and Tabu. It also has Sonali Bendre, Saif Ali Khan, Neelam and Mohnish Behl.
Moreover, the music and the lyrics of the film are the work of the same team that brought the hit music of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun -- composer Ram-Laxman, and lyricists Ravinder Rawal and Dev Kohli.
Shahparast said that Eros is pursuing the "normal traditional methods of marketing," including large-scale advertising on south Asian cable and regular television programs, and radio and print advertising.
In addition, Eros plans to give viewers who go to see Hum Saath promotional coupons for the DVD version of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun.
Meanwhile, Mast, which is nearing the end of its run in America, has grossed a feeble $ 200,000 in three weeks, and a far more disappointing $ 60,000 in the United Kingdom. Vaastav, starring Sanjay Dutt, had done worse than Mast, grossing about $ 100,000 in North America.
Deepa Mehta's Earth in its eighth week has reaped about $ 460,000 in the United States and about $ 180,000 in the United Kingdom. In its seventh week, it was on 12 screens in North America, down from 17 in the previous week.
With several openings ahead, Earth could gross about $ 600,000 eventually, a respectable, thought not a spectacular, take.
(Arthur J Pais contributed to the story)
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