Talking about the big Bollywood release this week, Akshaye Rathi of Saroj Cinemas, says, “We’re back in business, though with theatres not operational in Maharashtra, we are losing about 30 per cent of the business anyway. Bell Bottom has garnered good word of mouth and that should bring in better footfalls by the end of the week. The footfall wasn’t very high today but it was promising to see people returning to theatres. It’s also important at this stage to make people aware that this film is not playing on any OTT network. It’s in a theatre. It’s also a bit of a soft release. By Raksha Bandhan on Sunday, things should start looking up. Footfalls, we’re quite hopeful, will increase.”
Devang Sampat from Cinepolis believes that the producers have run a huge risk to release the film in theatres. He says, “This should be treated as a milestone, like a big first step which should encourage more filmmakers to step forward and release their films in theatres. Akshay Kumar has paved the way for others. Word of mouth publicity should bring in more footfalls as the days go by and people feel comfortable and safe to enter a theatre. We’re only hoping the business grows from this point. At the moment, we have no idea when the theatres in Maharashtra will be allowed to open their doors but we’re keeping our fingers crossed for it to happen soon.”
The opening day, according to a trade insider, was tough on Bell Bottom. “People can’t take their children with them right now. Women, then, may not be comfortable stepping out for a so-called family excursion. So, that leaves one with youngsters and a small number of couples. There are also people who have become used to OTT entertainment at home. That also has to be accounted for when talking business in today’s times. These are teething issues but they have to be looked into,” says the insider.
Distributor S Bansal from Rajasthan cautions that it probably is too early to make any predictions and judgments about the film’s box office collections. He says, “We have to wait for at least two days before we make any predictions whatsoever. These are early days, we’re just rebooting our business once again. The turnout was below our expectations but the reviews are quite positive and that, we can hope, will turn the tides.”
Distributor Sanjay Ghai of Mukta Arts sums up, “Ultimately, the fate of a film is in the hands of the junta in the country, and no one else. It will be sheer stupidity to judge this film on the basis of its box office. The promising part is that people arrived to watch the film, even though the numbers were small. This film has been liked by people so far and that can be gauged with an ever-increasing trend in the footfalls. The late evening-early night shows have bigger numbers than the shows in the day. So, with Bell Bottom in theatres, things are improving, but we have to be patient.”