Predictions for the performance of Shanghai at the box office have gone off track. Last week while penning this column, I was quite gung-ho about the fortunes of Shanghai. Everything seemed to be going right for the film, whether it’s the director, actor, concept or promotion. Okay, so this was never going to be a Rs. 100 crore affair due to it’s theme, subject, genre and treatment but still, it was widely believed that anything over Rs. 40 crore was definitely on cards, the kind of total which would have been quite good for the film. Due to aforementioned reasons, a minimum opening of 50% was pretty much on the cards.
However it was nothing less than shocking to see merely 20%-30%-40% at theatres, depending upon the mass v/s class or big v/s small centres. Leaving aside the word of mouth (more about that later), what really disappointed was the lack of audience footfalls right through the course of its opening weekend. It was plain and simple disheartening. Period. The writing was clear on the wall that many out there were just not enticed enough to step into the film. With a mere Rs. 12 crore coming over the first three days, it was well short of near Rs. 20 crore that most in the trade expected from the film.
So what went wrong? Well, tongues are wagging in all directions today. Some say it was due to Rowdy Rathore wave, which is actually wrong because even the Akshay Kumar starrer was good, not exceptional on Friday with around Rs. 5 crore coming in. Of course it took massive jumps over rest of the weekend but Shanghai had ground set for itself on the opening day. A few are attributing the film’s title for its undoing but then again, if that was the case, something as alien as Vicky Donor wouldn’t have clicked.
Thirdly, and most amusingly, all-around positive reviews and huge endorsement from critics are also being said to be the cause behind huge audience expectations for Shanghai and hence the fall. Now one couldn’t have been more away from reality because critics can neither make nor break a film. As for good reviews resulting in bad word of mouth amongst cine-goers, then well, that’s a first! This would be akin to saying that negative reviews from all critics would most result in audience watching a film with far more positive enthusiasm!
The reason for Shanghai not working with audience is very simple – Its content didn’t appeal to the audience. Okay, so Friday was low but then if word of mouth from those who actually saw the movie would have been all around positive, the film would have managed to sustain itself. The fact is that for aam junta, this experiment didn’t click and though it could find some supporters from a section of audience, by and large there weren’t many takers.