Diwali weekend returns weak

'Blue' disappoints, 'Main Aur Mrs. Khanna' follows

NEW DELHI -- The festive Diwali weekend that ended Monday here and considered the year's most crucial release window for major theatrical releases delivered a mixed bag of results instead of any major display of fireworks at the boxoffice.

Bollywood's first major underwater thriller “Blue” -- rumored to be the most expensive Indian film ever made with a reported budget of $18 million -- received mostly negative reviews, with one critic calling the film “incredibly dim-witted."

However thanks to the pre-release hype, industry estimates indicate the film still opened strongly with an average 80% occupancy per cinema. Since there is no central source for independent boxoffice data here, reported figures and estimates indicate that “Blue” grossed $4.3 million over the weekend, topping competing titles such as comedy caper “All The Best: The Fun Begins” and romantic triangle “Main Aur Mrs. Khanna” ("Me And Mrs. Khanna").

Starring top actor Akshay Kumar and an ensemble cast including a guest song appearance by Kylie Minogue, “Blue” was the year's most anticipated release but observers reckon it may not sustain audience interest over the coming week, probably making it difficult for independent banner Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision to recover its high costs.

“All The Best” was considered a strong contender, collecting $2.2 million, while “Main Aur Mrs. Khanna” came in way below expectations despite the presence of top actor Salman Khan and actress Kareena Kapoor, collecting only $880,000 according to estimates. With major Bollywood releases clogging the release pipeline, no major Hollywood releases were on offer this weekend.