The stakes are too high for Allu Arjun starrer Pushpa: The Rise, which is due in cinemas on Friday. The film marks the reunion of director Sukumar, actor Allu Arjun and music composer Devi Sri Prasad, a hit combo in Telugu cinema, after more than 10 years. With pan-India release becoming a new norm, the filmmakers announced they will release the film in multiple languages on the same day worldwide.
The filmmakers shot through the pandemic but were not left with enough time to give the film a huge launch by expanding its earning prospects and promoting it across the country. Sukumar, Devi Sri Prasad, editor Ruben, sound designer Resul Pookutty had to work round the clock during the last few days to ensure the film arrives in cinemas on Friday.
The gruelling last-minute post-production work kept Sukumar from promotions. And even the lead cast and crew were busy with dubbing until December 10. The responsibility of creating awareness about the film, outside the Telugu states, and getting people excited about it fell on the shoulders of the film’s lead cast, Allu Arjun and Rashmika Mandanna. In the last four days, the duo visited Bengaluru, Chennai, Kochi and Mumbai. They gave interviews, met fans and tried to make headlines as much as possible.
All things considered, the duo’s whirlwind promotion in Mumbai may not help the film make a notable dent at the box office, where Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home is suspected to make a killing. “When distributors have Spiderman, they don’t need any other movie now,” quipped a top exhibitor in Mumbai.
The performance of the film’s Hindi version in the northern pockets completely depends on the kind of reviews it will generate in the coming days.
However down south, the market looks a lot different for Pushpa The Rise. Allu Arjun is a known face across south Indian states, and he enjoys a significant fan following in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka. And the star’s hard-earned goodwill is likely to translate into a solid box office collection in these states.
“We are expecting the film to do about Rs 30 crore business before the end of its theatrical run in Tamil Nadu,” said Tirupur Subramaniam, President of Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners’ Association. He also added it was difficult to predict the film’s opening day collection without more data. “We will get a clear picture only after a couple of days of its release and what kind of word of mouth it generates,” he said. He noted that the film is expected to draw more crowds to theatres than Spider-Man: No Way Home. “This is the first time an Allu Arjun film is releasing in Tamil, so we think it will strike a chord with the audience across all centres,” he added.
According to his estimation, the film will get nearly 400 screens in Tamil Nadu alone.
Pushpa: The Rise is expected to set the box office on fire in the Telugu states. The surprisingly excellent theatrical performance of Akhanda, starring Balakrishna, has already warmed up the engines of show business in the Telugu states. And the Allu Arjun starrer is expected to drive the momentum further.
“I think the film may gross nearly Rs 35 crore on its opening day from across India. And it will end the weekend with Rs 100 crore gross,” said Suresh Kondi, film journalist and trade analyst.
According to his conservative prediction, Pushpa will collect, at least, Rs 80 crore in the first three days. “People are excited to go back to theatres. That trend is visible in the kind of business that the new Spiderman is doing. Especially here (in Telugu states) everyone is waiting to watch Pushpa on the big screens. Right now, there is no fear,” he added.
Of over 1,700 combined screen count in the Telugu states, Pushpa will dominate around 1,500 screens for at least the next two weeks, making it the top film at the Telugu box office. The screen count will likely drop with the release of Nani’s Shyam Singha Roy, which is due in cinemas on December 24.
Pushpa’s earning potential is likely to be affected by the Andhra Pradesh government regulation of movie ticket prices. Earlier this year, in a controversial move, the state government passed the order upsetting all stakeholders in the value chain. As per the order, the ticket prices can start as low as Rs 5 and the highest a theatre could charge is Rs 250. There was no relief from the government despite repeated requests from big stars, directors, producers and distributors.
Recently, the Andhra Pradesh High Court struck down the government’s regulation in response to the petition filed by cinema theatre owners. The government, however, has appealed against the court order and that hearing will happen on Monday. Until a clear verdict emerges, the tickets in Andhra Pradesh will be sold at the prices stipulated by the government.