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|February 25, 2000|
Will Sanjay Dutt lift the box office gloom?
A P Kamath
With Kamal Haasan's Hey! Ram living up to its title across North America by grossing a weak $ 170,000 in four days, the desi graveyard of flops is over-crowded.
Pukar, despite Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit's presence in the cast, was lifeless during its three prime weeks. Its clarion call brought less than $ 300,000.
Badal, with Bobby Deol and Rani Mukherjee, brought no welcome showers. It rained less than $ 100,000.
Rani Mukherjee, who also has a key role in Hey! Ram, cannot be blamed for the lackluster performance of the movie. Given the film's slow pace and Shah Rukh Khan's minor role, many in the industry are surprised that the movie was able to gross beyond $ 100,000. If the movie follows the usual 50 per cent slide that desi movies face in the second week and thereafter, it could end its North American run with about $ 350,000.
Khauff, which is to be released in March by Eros, carries good advance reports. But will it be a big enough hit to offset the disappointing run of other Eros releases, including Pukar and Hey! Ram?
Except for Khalnayak, Sanjay Dutt has had no solo hit in North America in recent years. And, given Manisha Koirala's lame luck overseas -- her only hit was Dil Se.. -- it would be a minor miracle if Khauff lifts the box-office gloom.
If there is no surprise hit in the coming weeks, the only big hope will be David Dhawan's Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge. The Karisma Kapoor-Salman Khan starrer is slated for a March 24 release.
In other box office related news, Holy Smoke, the Kate Winslett drama about cults, is disappearing into thin air. It grossed a disappointing $ 250,000 last week, bringing its total collection to about $ 950,000. Trade observers do not expect the film to cross the $ 2 million mark in North America.
In a limited release abroad, the film has failed to set fire to the box office. In France, where its director Jane Campion has a big following, Holy Smoke failed to light the scene. It grossed only about $ 2 million.
Critical opinion has been sharply divided. And now that it has not been nominated for the Oscars, the movie is dying fast and may not gross more than $ 10 million worldwide.
Campion's The Piano played to the tune of $ 100 million worldwide. Her next film, Portrait of a Lady, was considered a box office failure even though it drew in $ 25 million.
The Sixth Sense, which was on its death bed in the first week of February, has bounced to the 16th position on the box office chart by taking in nearly $ 2 million during the four-day presidential holiday weekend. Its North American gross is about $ 282.5 million. Walt Disney expects the movie to reach the $ 300 million mark before the Oscars are announced in five weeks.
Abroad, it has grossed about $ 330 million, with over $ 60 million generated from Japan alone. And it could reach the $ 400 million mark before Oscars eve.
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