2006 has offered a boost to the marketeers of Bollywood films in the UK -- and provided film and media students with a good example of how film distribution works. The Muslim festival of Eid ul-Fitr celebrates the end of Ramadan, which because it is part of the lunar calendar occurs approx. 11 days earlier each year of the Gregorian calendar. In 2006 Eid was celebrated on 23/24 October in the UK. This coincided with the Hindu festival of Diwali, which also moves in relation to the Gregorian calendar, but always occurs at roughly the same time of year. This year it started on October 21 and lasted for several days.
The coincidence of the two festivals meant that both of the two major UK Asian communities were looking for family celebrations at the same time. The Bollywood distributors held back major releases so that there was nothing playing in Bradford last week, in order to concentrate on the holidays this week when they opened two big films, the romance Jaan-e-maan and the action film Don (a remake of a 1978 Amitabh film with Shahrukh Khan in the lead). An interesting short piece in the Guardian G2 on Monday October 23 by Saima Raza describes how Bradford Asian families now see the Eid festivities as the perfect time to go to the movies.
I went into Bradford yesterday and it was buzzing on an afternoon with changeable weather. Since it's half-term as well, Cineworld was packed and I gave up trying to get a ticket, going to see Zinedine Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait instead. Since the Hollywood offer is pretty dire at the moment (with the exception of The Departed), the two Bollywood films could take up to five screens out of fourteen at various times of the day. It will be interesting to see how the two films fare in the weeks Box Office Top 15.