The turf war seems to be getting more interesting by the minute. As a blow to the makers of Akshay Kumar starrer Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai 2, sources say single screen owners have gone ahead and recorded a deal over the weekend to acquire the coming Friday's release Ajay Devgn's Himmatwala as a package deal with SRK's Chennai Express.
This is in line to what several theatre owners had done last year that resulted in Devgn moving the courts against Khan's Eid release Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Similarly, Ekta Kapoor's film might suffer the same fate.
Says our source, "One can't deny the recent success of both Ajay and Sajid Khan. The film is also a solo release and so exhibitors have rushed to sign the deal. With maximum single screen owners opting for the Devgn starrer, it is clear that they also have to now run Chennai Express. It means that the other Eid release Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai 2 and the Sunny Deol starrer Singh Saheb The Great will find it difficult to rope in single screen theatres."
An industry insider says, "Producer Ekta Kapoor will now have to find some other strategy to counter this newly signed deal."
Trade analyst Amod Mehra says, "All the major exhibitors have signed the deal over the weekend and now it will be suicidal if any film clashes with Chennai Express during Eid."
Trade expert Vikas Mohan says "It is business at the end of the day and whoever has the upper hand wins it. Like last time when YRF had the upper hand, Son Of Sardaar had to suffer. UTV has Himmatwala and then Chennai Express and that is why they are getting these theatres. It is ultimately the choice of the exhibitors and whom they want to do their business with."
While Balaji CEO Tanuj Garg refused to comment on the issue, Siddharth Roy Kapoor of UTV remained unavailable for comment.