And now some good news for Saawariya

MUMBAI: In the free-for-all between the two giants, Om Shanti Om (OSO) and Saawariya, we do hope this is the last word. With reports coming in on the international success for Saawariya, both the director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Sony Pictures will breathe a little easy.

This is also good news for other Hollywood studios that are eyeing the lucrative Indian film market. Since Warner Brothers has already tied up with Ramesh Sippy for Made in China and Walt Disney with YRF for Roadside Romeo, the success of Saawariya, will send the right signals.

According to Vikramjit Roy, head of publicity and promotions, Sony Pictures‘ first Indian co-production Saawariya, which is a collaboration with director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, bowed to Rs 500 million ($12.5 million) across 754 screens in India over the Diwali weekend 9-11 November. The week (9 to 15 November) closed at Rs 600 million.

It hit 60% and now it is at 30%. We hear almost 850 prints were released in that opening weekend and almost 50 prints have been withdrawn. That means shows have been cancelled and replaced by more successful films.

Saawariya, the first Bollywood production from any Hollywood studio, also hit screens in 12 other markets (across 230 screens) - UK, US, UAE, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Kenya, Malaysia, Oman, Quatar, Bahrain, Singapore - bowing at $ 1.5 million.

The film also released in Indonesia on 16 November.

The worldwide tally, for the opening weekend (9-11 November) was therefore a whopping $ 14 million (Rs 560 mil), hardly a flop show by any terms of reference.

The numbers do tell a tale though. It was clearly in the first three days when anticipation around the movie was at its peak that Saawariya raked in most of its moolah from the domestic market. A massive 83 per cent of the takings in fact.

Going by the reports that are coming out, occupancy levels dropped from almost 90 per cent in that opening weekend to 30 per cent in the second week and have been steadily dropping since. Still, Sony Pictures can come away from this movie knowing that it did manage to make good its money.

Commenting on this performance and the fact that Saawariya released on the same day as Om Shanti Om, SPE Films India MD Uday Singh said, "We are thrilled with the opening and the fact that audiences everywhere have connected with the film, especially the youth, who have loved the heartwarming performances by the two newcomers Ranbir and Sonam.

"Sony Pictures congratulates Shah Rukh Khan and the entire Om Shanti Om team for setting the all-time record for a film during the Diwali box office weekend. It is truly an amazing accomplishment. But what is even more significant is that two major films competed against each other and both did enormously well. The marketplace can accommodate two major motion pictures and both can succeed. We could not be more pleased with the success of Saawariya and we are proud that we have played a role in setting the record for our industry during Diwali week."

Commenting on whether Sony Pictures is looking at more films in India Singh explains, "India has a rich and a prolific film history and we at Sony Pictures recognise the potential and importance of the Indian market. Tying up with a leading motion picture company in India like Eros for a six picture co-production deal shows our commitment to work with the creative talent in India."

And now all concerned are happily wiping the egg the media had initially hurled at them off their faces.


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