India boxoffice shrugs off swine flu

Receipts for 'Kaminey' strong despite cinema closures

NEW DELHI -- Boxoffice receipts in India have held up despite turmoil caused by precautions against Human Swine Flu.

Cinemas and other public places have been closed since last Wednesday in Pune, only 75 miles from the showbiz capital Mumbai. There too cinemas were shut until Monday in fear of an epidemic which has claimed 25 lives and 1,000 more tested positive.

One of the year's most anticipated releases "Kaminey" ('Treacherous') from UTV Motion Pictures debuted Friday worldwide and across India with the exceptions of Mumbai and Pune. According to figures released Tuesday by UTVMP, "Kaminey" grossed some $7.2 million (Rupees 330 million) worldwide with Indian receipts at about $3.7 million. The film opened in Mumbai on Monday and will open in Pune by the weekend.

Inspired by Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie-styled crime capers, "Kaminey" is directed by Vishal Bharadwaj and stars Shahid Kapur and actress Priyanka Chopra. UTV said the film was the second biggest opening of the year in India without the crucial territories of Mumbai and Pune and the second biggest opening of the year in the U.S. and the U.A.E.

The closure of cinemas in Pune and Mumbai "has obviously been a setback given that this is a major territory for any film, but the box office will bounce back," said Tushar Dhingra, COO of India's largest theatrical chain Big Cinemas COO.

 Big Cinemas Friday unveiled its latest property in Delhi's central business district, a revamped two-screen multiplex replacing one of the city's oldest cinemas, the Odeon. It played "Kaminey" and comedy "Life Partner" from Studio18 and Monday reported that the film amassed an India take of about $1.3 million (Rupees 62.5 million).

"'Kaminey' has surpassed all expectations with the sort of business it has achieved in the first weekend of release itself, coupled with the critical acclaim it has generated in India and around the world," said UTVMP CEO Siddharth Roy Kapur.