'Avengers: Endgame is a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon'
Exhibitors are thrilled with the pre-release buzz for the 22nd movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe
Two years after the country was enveloped in the Baahubali craze, a similar phenomenon seems to be unfolding before the release of the highly-anticipated Avengers: Endgame. The 22nd film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe marks the end of 12 years of story-telling and world-building. Expectations are sky high, and exhibitors, wary of the craze for tickets for last year's Avengers:Infinity War, have even opened bookings on Sunday as against the usual Tuesdays for new movies. Tickets sold out in a flash, with the ticketing portal BookMyShow witnessing a record one million tickets sold in just over a day. Compare that to the record set by Infinity War last year -- it sold a million tickets too, but reached that number only a day before the release.
Rahul Kadbet, Vice President Programming of one of the biggest nationwide chains, Carnival Cinemas, says, "Around 2.25 lakh tickets have been sold which is about 74 per cent capacity for the weekend, with maximum number sold in Delhi/NCR and Mumbai. We have 1000+ shows per day for the movie in over 100 cities."
Reuban, owner of GK Cinemas, which has emerged as one of Chennai's popular theatres thanks to its early morning shows, says the opening for Endgame is comparable to what they saw during the release of Viswasam and Petta. "The pressure is unprecedented. We are running 8-10 shows per day, nearly double that of Infinity War. We have only had this kind of opening weekend twice this year -- one during the Viswasam/Petta weekend and the other for Kanchana 3. And the demand for Monday and Tuesday too is considerable, so we expect this film to have a run as good as the Ajith and Rajini-starrers."
BookMyShow's spokesperson says there are nearly 2000+ shows over the weekend across 60 theatres throughout Tamil Nadu as of now, and all of these are sold out on the first day. "The weekend shows are 90 per cent sold out and you can already see the occupancy for the next few weekdays at close to 50-60 per cent. IMAX shows are the first to get sold out followed by 3D shows."
The film is releasing in English, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu in the country. Last year Infinity War got 200 screens. But this year the number for Endgame is much much higher. Tirupur Subramaniam, the President of Tamil Nadu Theatre and Multiplex Owners Association (TNTMOA), says, "Endgame is releasing in close to 400 screens in Tamil Nadu, of which around 250 are 3D-enabled. Tamil-dubbed versions alone will be playing in close to 200 screens across the state."
Murugan Cinemas, a single screen theatre in Ambattur is screening the film in both English and Tamil. They believe that their locality makes it ripe for them to screen the Tamil versions. This reason is also echoed by Udeep, owner of Mayajaal multiplex. "The presence of a lot of colleges, the floating population and the increase in quality of dubbing has ensured that dubbed films are not treated as inferior products. In fact, of the 80-100 shows we are screening, 20 per cent has been allocated for regional languages. We have gone one step further and have actually allocated 30 per cent of our screens for 2D version as 3D is still uncomfortable for a section of people, and we do not want to leave them by the wayside."
The early reviews from the premiere at Los Angeles has been unanimously positive. The movie currently holds a 97% positive rating at the popular movie review aggregator, Rotten Tomatoes. But Udeep believes that people are not particularly reading the reviews for this film. "It is an event. People who don't even know what this film is about want to see it. They would not have seen any of the previous 21 films, but they want to see it. That reason is definitely a contributing factor to us selling out nearly 250 shows over the weekend."
Infinity War collected close to 300 crores in India in its run last summer. Tirupur Subramaniam believes its too early to put a number on Endgame, but he sees this as a definite 10-day run a la Viswasam and Petta. Udeep goes one step further and says, "While Infinity War got 15-18 crores in Tamil Nadu, Endgame will easily net 50 crores in the state and a minimum of 500 crores in India. Of the nearly 900 million dollars that Infinity War is expected to rake in as part of its five-day opening weekend (the film is getting a staggered release across the world), India is expected to contribute a cool 50 million easily making it one of the top 7 markets for Marvel worldwide." While tickets in Chennai are sold between the regulated Rs 60 and Rs 240 for the 3D versions, the morning ticket price in deregulated Mumbai has been hiked to Rs 350 as compared to Rs 155 for other films. The rest of the day's tickets are as high as Rs 750.
Avengers: Endgame has got an estimated 2600 screens with the number still rising, as compared to Infinity War, which got an unparalleled 2000 screens across India at the time of its release. Reuban sums it all up saying, "I don't know if this will break Baahubali's record, but for an English film this is and will be unrivalled for some time to come. I don't think even Avatar 2 will be able to replicate this. It is a once-in-a-lifetime event."