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Khan vs Kumar this Eid

Chennai Express and Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Again are set to clash this August

Some time last week we reported how Shah Rukh Khan’s next and only release  this year Chennai Express would be coming on Eid, and clashing with Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Again starring Akshay Kumar. The general impression was that one of the two films would eventually bow out, but it seems that the battle lines have been drawn, and it will be a fight to the finish as neither party is willing to back down.

UTV, the producers of Chennai Express have offered something of a ‘buy one get one free’ deal to theatre owners. The offer basically is that if they want to buy Ajay Devgn’s Himmatwala, which is releasing on March 27, they will have to devote all four shows to Chennai Express when it releases as well, irrespective of whatever other film may release along side it (i.e. Once Upon A Time In Mumbai Again).

Yash Raj Films used a similar tactic last year with Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Ek Tha Tiger.

 “YRF has set the trend. Now, UTV is doing it. It seems they just want to kill the prospects of Once Upon A Time in Mumbai Again,” said a theatre owner to Mumbai Mirror.

Apart from a few instances, it has never been beneficial for two films of this magnitude to release on the same day.

“Festive season or otherwise, ideally no two big films should release on the same day. Business suffers across plexes and single screens. In this case, it will all depend on how many shows each film manages to get in single screens. If UTV has its way, Balaji (producers of OUATIM2) will lose about Rs 2.5 crore (approx £305,000,” says a leading distributor (on request of anonymity).

"This is not true at all. We enjoy long and mutually beneficial relationships with all our exhibition partners, and as a studio we have developed these relationships over the years with a steady supply of high quality content. There is no need at all for us to link the screening of one of our films with another, especially with films of the scale and magnitude of Himmatwala and Chennai Express," said  Gaurav Verma, Director - India Distribution, Disney UTV.

However Balaji CEO, Tanuj Garg chose not to comment, and his silence on the matter speaks volumes.

It will be interesting to see which of the two Goliaths goes on to win the final battle. Chennai Express is directed by Rohit Shetty and sees Deepika Padukone opposite Khan, while OUATIM2 stars Imran Khan and Sonakshi Sinha with Kumar and is directed by Milan Luthria. Both films are scheduled to release on 8 August 2013.

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