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Cinemas hope to close 2022 on a high ride

The sequel of James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar, made after more than a decade, is set to hit the Indian box office. High expectations are riding on Avatar: The Way of Water hitting cinemas on Friday with theatres hoping to close 2022 on a high riding on the cult sci-fi flick.

In a bid to cash in on the popularity of the 2009 franchise, the makers of the movie are releasing it in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada. By industry reckoning it will be shown in over 3,000 screens in India.

Ashish Saksena, COO – Cinemas, BookMyShow, said the upcoming sequel is predicted to be one of the year’s biggest releases in all formats, including 3D and IMAX, “ Avataar: The Way of Water has already reached 1 million tickets in advance bookings on BookMyShow and is expected to accelerate as the movie gears up for its release on December 16th,” he says.

Language-agnostic
According to Saksena, “The English version of the film is in the lead for ticket sales on our platform, but is closely followed by the Hindi version demonstrating the franchise’s strong and language-agnostic appeal. Avid cinephiles in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai and Hyderabad were among the first ones to grab advance tickets.”

Analysts believe it can set a new record for the highest grossing Hollywood flick in India beating Avengers: the End Game, which is estimated to have netted collections of about Rs 375 crore.

The movie’s release also comes at a time when Bollywood has had a patch performance at the box office.

Karan Taurani,Senior Vice-President, Elara Capital said, “ We expect strong openings and pick-up for the movie and it will boost Q3 performance for exhibitors. This may prop box office revenue recovery to 80 per cent of pre-Covid level, despite an ordinary Diwali, given the sub-par Hindi content. This quarter, Hindi box office revenue should largely be at par with Q1FY23, the best quarter for Hindi-based content so far in the post-Covid era.” He added that the Avatar sequel may appeal to a larger audience given the premise of family viewing versus Avengers’ youth-led audience.

Multiplex chains expect Xmas to ring in early. Rajender Singh Jyala, Chief Programming Officer, Inox Leisure Ltd said, “The advance bookings have been strong. As of Wednesday afternoon, we have already seen advance bookings of more than 2 lakh tickets for the first weekend. We are expecting it to break the record of Avengers : Endgame’s in terms of opening weekend collections.

Kamal Gianchandani, President, Multiplex Association of India added, “ The advance booking trends are very good pointing to a strong opening for the movie this Friday. The exhibition industry will end the calendar year with a big bang with this Hollywood flick. Also we have Circus releasing this month, which is also looking strong.” The Hindu BusinessLine

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