Riding high on the star power of Shah Rukh Khan and a long festive weekend of Eid, director Rohit Shetty’s highly anticipated Chennai Express opened yesterday with 80-90 per cent occupancy in theaters across the country.

After a number of films being released together every Friday from the last couple of weekends, Chennai Express was the only release this weekend, the film opened with 3500 prints in India and 700 plus screens overseas. Early morning shows in the capital were not houseful but the film picked momentum by midday.

“It has been a super opening for us. Technically averaging over 90 per cent now. It is 92 to 93 per cent occupancy for us. First three days are going to be big for us,” Gautam Dutta, COO, PVR Ltd said.

Dutta said they have put together 990 shows in PVR and Cinemax and tickets for the three days are almost sold out.

“It is doing very well in South India thanks to the clever titling and SRK’s appeal. Bangalore is running to packed houses and even at a place like Kochi where Hindi movies are moderate success, the film is doing well,” he added.

According to trade sources, The film made Rs 6.75 crores from paid previews which is the highest till date, beating Aamir Khan’s 3 Idiots that made Rs 2.7 crores.

“This may end up surpassing Ek Tha Tiger simply due to its wide release, the number of shows, and the kind of marketing SRK has done. Eid is always big but it coming on a Friday is lethal because it is actually combined with Saturday and Sunday so it will keep the momentum on,” Dutta said.

Anant Verma, Director and Business Head, DT Cinemas, which has screens in North India, said their average opening has been above 90 per cent.

“Since there are no other releases today, we have allotted 90 per cent screen to the film in Delhi and Chandigarh. Although there is another big film releasing on Independence day. Chennai Express will sustain,” Verma said.

Munish Sharma, GM Marketing and Programming Satyam Cinemas Delhi, said they have released the film in all 12 screens here.

“So far the response has been good and it will increase towards the end of the day and weekend. Film’s response in the morning was 80 per cent to 90 per cent,” Sharma said.

The film produced by UTV Motion Pictures and SRK’s production company Red Chillies, has released in 50 plus countries including places like Morocco, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Israel and Peru.