Not planned for the approaching holiday season yet? Here’s a tip: mark off a day each week in December to watch these four potential blockbuster movies with friends and family, and you will (probably) not be disappointed. The year ends with much-awaited films Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 and Star wars: The Force Awakens, while the Indian commercial film industry has big releases such as the romantic action-comedy Dilwale and historical drama Bajirao Mastani. Each big release has its own attraction — Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 will wrap up the Hunger Games series, The Force Awakens begins the first of a trilogy of Star Wars sequels (and also sees the return of the original cast). Dilwale pairs Shah Rukh and Kajol, and even borrows its title from the duo’s hit 1995 movie Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. Bajirao Mastani is director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s pet project finally come to fruition. Here are box-office projections and audience responses for the four movies to look forward to this season.
“Star Wars has its own clientele, we are expecting good business,” said Raizada of the movie’s expected performance in India, where it is slated for a Christmas release. Meanwhile, overseas projections for the movie indicate that it will rack up at least $170 million over its domestic opening weekend when it hits US theatres on 18 December.
The Hunger Games
The fourth and final instalment of The Hunger Games series opened in theatres on 27 November. The movie, based on Suzzane Collin’s book Mockingjay, was filmed in two parts, with the first releasing last winter. Much anticipation surrounded the finale, but overseas box office figures have reflected a poor performance compared to the other three movies in the series. Having said that, Mockingjay was still the fifth highest grosser of 2015. Its diminished performance is being attributed by critics to the grim subject matter of the last movie, which, incidentally does not end on a very upbeat note. Some even blame the onslaught of similar dystopia-themed movies like the Maze Runner and the Divergent series for Mockingjay’s below par performance. The story follows Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence, as she leads her team to a fictional place called the Capitol where she must bring down the tyrannous regime of President Snow and restore peace in the land of Panem. Mockingjay Part 2 released in India this week along with the highly awaited Tamaasha starring Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor. “How Hunger Games does at the theatres remains to be seen with movies like Tamaasha and the Punjabi film Mukhtiar Chaddha releasing on the same day. They are surely to divide business,” said Yogesh Raizada, Vice President of Wave Cinemas.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Set thirty years after events in the Return of the Jedi, the new Star Wars movie, which is the seventh in the series, reunites the old star cast, with Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher reprising their roles as Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and General (princess) Leia. “Star Wars has its own clientele, we are expecting good business,” said Raizada of the movie’s expected performance in India, where it is slated for a Christmas release. Meanwhile, overseas projections for the movie indicate that it will rack up at least $170 million over its domestic opening weekend when it hits US theatres on 18 December. The movie has already collected over $50 million in advance ticket sales abroad, attracting men, women, young and old alike. The Force Awakens, directed by JJ Abrams, follows six other Star Wars movies beginning with the original trilogy: Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Between 1999 and 2002, George Lucas directed a trilogy of prequels titled The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. Although its release is a month away, the internet is already abuzz with activity linked to the movie. Disney has just launched the trailer for its Disney Infinity 3 video game, which will be available for sale the same day as the release of Episode VII. Google too has fed the frenzy by introducing an app that allows users to customise their Google apps and services to a Star Wars theme.
18 December reunites the hit pair Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in a film by the maker of runaway hits Rohit Shetty. Whether Shetty delivers one this time or not remains to be seen. The trailer, launched on 9 November, has received 1,56,37,890 views on YouTube so far. The movie began its promotions when “Rohit Shetty and team” published a video of the two leads celebrating 20 years of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge on the sets of Dilwale on 19 October. It was shared widely on social networking sites and stirred audience interest in the new movie as well. The film has everything to boast for in a formulaic Hindi Romantic-action-comedy genre going by the trailer. The only spoiler could be the potential threat posed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani releasing on the same day which is sure to divide business. Yet, analysts believe both movies will do well in numbers, though Bajirao Mastani may win more critical acclaim. “We are expecting 80-90% occupancy rates for both movies. Each has a big star cast and both are big budget commercial films. Both should do good business,” says Raizada. Dilwale also stars Varun Dhawan and Kriti Sanon and has been co-produced by Shah Rukh Khan and Rohit Shetty.
More than a decade later, Sanjay Leela Bhansali has finally found a Bajirao in Ranveer Singh and a Mastani in Deepika Padukone. The film Bajirao Mastani, first announced in 2003 when Bhansali wanted to cast Aishwarya Rai and Salman Khan in the titular roles, will release on 18 December, alongside Dilwale. The trailer, released on 20 November has received 36,52,128 views on YouTube so far. The movie has been aggressively promoted right from the release of its teaser four months ago. That was followed by the release of the song Deewani Mastani and about a month later, by Pinga Re, where Padukone and Priyanka Chopra, who plays Bajirao’s first wife Keshu Bai, are seen dancing together. Pinga Re ran into controversy, with Bajirao’s kin Mohini Karkarey writing an open letter to Bhansali where she pointed out that Keshu Bai could not have possibly danced as she was born with a limp. However, any publicity is good publicity and the challenges have died down now as the release date approaches. Bajirao may just have an edge over Dilwale if internet gossip is anything to go by. Analysts feel it is the better looking film of the two and the trailer has awed people and industry experts alike, according to reports.