Devgn, Yash Raj battle for screen space on Diwali

Written by Ashish Sinha | New Delhi | Updated: Nov 13 2012, 02:15am hrs
ADF cries foul over Jab Tak Hain Jaan producers, to keep watch on 586 single-screen theatres playing Son of Sardar

Gear up for some fireworks at the box office this Diwali. The legal team of Ajay Devgn Films (ADF) said it would be keeping a close watch on 586 single-screen theaters (out of 1,407 in key cities) where the film Son of Sardar (SOS) is scheduled to release over Yash Raj Film's Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Jab Tak Hai Jaan (JTHJ).

According to ADF, Yash Raj has an agreement with only 821 single-screen theatres and therefore if the remaining screens release JTHJ, then the Competition Appellate Tribunal (Compat) will step in.

Compat has already admitted ADF's plea after the same was dismissed by the Competition Commission of India last week.

We will be watching which of the 586 single-screens release SOS and which ones go for JTHJ. Then the matter will be reported to Compat," a person related with ADF told FE.

ADF has alleged anti-competitive practices by YRF as it had allegedly blocked 1,400 single-screen theatres in July for its JTHJ.

Son of Sardaar, like JTHJ, is scheduled for November 13 release.

Sources said, many other Bollywood films firms are planning to join ADF in support citing earlier instances when there films faced similar problems. More film production houses have supported the legal fight taken up by ADF. There are enough instances in the past to prove anti-competition practices by YRF, said a lawyer.

At the heart of the tussle between ADF and YRF is the magical figure of R100 crore from box-office collection.

If JTHJ is released in more screens (which is the fact now), naturally, the share of opening weeks collections will be in favour of YRF, said a Mumbai-based senior film analyst.

According to film pundits, a bulk of film business comes from the opening three-day collections (for films released on Friday). However, the fight between ADF and YRF is because of Tuesday release (Diwali day) will lead to a six-day run for the first week.

As per a statement issued by ADF, if the facts given out by YRF are found to be false, the company will continue to fight against YRFs anti-competitive activities. YRF refuted the statement, stating that the Compat didn't find any merit in ADF's contention on the agreement entered into by YRF with single-screen cinemas.