Box Office Analysis: Yash Raj Films

The recent release of Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! inspired me to take a look at the US box office history for all of the Yash Raj Films releases from the past decade. I based my analysis on data provided by Box Office Mojo and Bollywood Hungama (which in turn uses information from Rentrak).

Looking at the total grosses of all films, it looks like there’s a slight trend upward in total box office, over time. (The orange line represents a simple linear regression of all data.)


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You might notice that one film did disproportionately well in late 2013. That’s Dhoom 3, which raked in about $8M. Remove this outlier from the equation, and the other YRF releases are actually on a gentle decline in total box office take.


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Despite the stagnancy of total box office dollars, YRF’s widest releases are being shown in more US theaters than ever.


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A flat box office and more theaters means that opening weekend averages per screen are also trending downward, even when including Dhoom 3 in the calculations. Blockbusters have been immune to the trend, but the underperformers are doing worse than ever. The last four Yash Raj movies released in 2014 (Bewakoofiyaan, Mardaani, Daawat-e-Ishq, and Kill Dil) each came in at under $2,000 per screen.


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Taking into account that average ticket prices have also climbed almost $2 (from $6.41 in 2005 to $8.17 in 2014, according to Box Office Mojo), this lack of growth in box office also means that fewer tickets are being sold for each Yash Raj Films release, on average.

The good news for YRF is that Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! bucked recent trends, averaging about $4,000 per screen in US theaters in its opening weekend. That puts it on par with films from the studio’s most reliable period, 2007-08.

For the remainder of 2015, Yash Raj Films has only one film officially planned for release: Fan, starring Shahrukh Khan. Yet Fan‘s release date has been changed multiple times, and it’s not currently listed on Bollywood Hungama’s release calendar. The surprise success of the romantic comedy Dum Laga Ke Haisha in India prompted Yash Raj Films to create an international trailer for the movie, renaming it My Big Fat Bride. There’s a chance that it could open in US while Fan is completed — though its star, Ayushmann Khurrana, isn’t a guaranteed money maker like Shahrukh Khan.

Even if Yash Raj Films doesn’t release another movie in 2015, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! has nudged the studio’s fortunes in the US back in the right direction.

Author’s note: My thanks to Box Office Mojo, Bollywood Hungama, and Rentrak for the raw information. Note: there’s no reliable box office data for a pair of 2010 releases — Badmaash Company and Pyaar Impossible — so I couldn’t take them into account in this analysis.

The charts were generated by my husband, Greg Gibson, using the d3.js JavaScript library. Visit his GitHub site to view more YRF charts or to peruse the project’s source code.

Finally, here’s a table of estimated box office data for all YRF releases since 2005:

Title Total Gross Max Screens Opening AVG Release Date
Bunty Aur Babli 942756 51 8544 Fri May 27 2005
Salaam Namaste 1413283 63 8014 Fri Sep 09 2005
Neal ‘n’ Nikki 111551 44 1705 Fri Dec 09 2005
Fanaa 2105352 72 10459 Fri May 26 2006
Dhoom 2 2643586 63 15540 Fri Nov 24 2006
Kabul Express 302458 50 2852 Fri Dec 15 2006
Ta Ra Rum Pum 872643 85 5001 Fri Apr 27 2007
Jhoom Barabar Jhoom 695157 83 5485 Fri Jun 15 2007
Chak De India 1120404 62 5676 Fri Aug 10 2007
Laaga Chunari Mein Daag 675102 60 5350 Fri Oct 12 2007
Aaja Nachle 484108 66 3902 Fri Nov 30 2007
Tashan 457380 75 4016 Fri Apr 25 2008
Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic 365401 68 2671 Fri Jun 27 2008
Bachna Ae Haseeno 702166 71 4541 Fri Aug 15 2008
Roadside Romeo 55202 29 1440 Fri Oct 24 2008
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi 2078956 83 11096 Fri Dec 12 2008
New York 997437 60 7795 Fri Jun 26 2009
Dil Bole Hadippa! 644046 54 6508 Fri Sep 18 2009
Rocket Singh 164649 70 2352 Fri Dec 11 2009
Band Baaja Baaraat 71374 32 1369 Fri Dec 10 2010
Mere Brother Ki Dulhan 496172 74 5448 Fri Sep 09 2011
Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl 222019 80 2775 Fri Dec 09 2011
Ek Tha Tiger 2347774 120 9495 Wed Aug 15 2012
Jab Tak Hai Jaan 3047539 164 7973 Tue Nov 13 2012
Aurangzeb 149000 62 1468 Fri May 17 2013
Shuddh Desi Romance 641000 116 2980 Fri Sep 06 2013
Dhoom 3 8090250 239 14320 Fri Dec 20 2013
Gunday 887675 150 3656 Fri Feb 14 2014
Bewakoofiyaan 106800 66 1026 Fri Mar 14 2014
Mardaani 393619 86 1965 Fri Aug 22 2014
Daawat-e-Ishq 385415 113 1814 Fri Sep 19 2014
Kill Dil 246107 87 1977 Fri Nov 14 2014
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2 thoughts on “Box Office Analysis: Yash Raj Films

  1. JustMeMike

    I think I have seen almost all of the YR films on the chart – with Dhoom 3 and Dhoom 2 as the most successful films that I’ve NOT seen. I think the falling numbers are indicative of a few things – Shah Rukh Khan sells well. As do action films (except for Gunday) but the numbers for many films that I really enjoyed were shockingly low. Band Baaja Baaraat. and Bewakoofiyaan and Shudd Desi Romance jump off the page as box office failures but were very enjoyable films. Mardaani didn’t do well either – but I didn’t think that film was all that well done.

    The box offices will continue to decline because of the internet streaming services, and because the movie ticket prices is high plus the cost of popcorn and soft drinks sold in the theaters is exorbitant. People can pay one fee per month and make their own popcorn and saves tons of money. Or they can buy the DVDs and still save big bucks.

    I have also said before that if YR and other Indian producers want to make money in North America – they need to sell tickets to more Americans and Canadians who are not Indian. And to do this they should consider how they title their films.

    Bewakoofiyaan is an excellent example. Most people said – Whaaaat?? about that film. Mardaani was another example of a bankable star (Rani Mukerji) but you’d never know she played a tough city detective from that title.

    That’s why I think My Big Fat Bride will do well if it reaches our shores. The title has a nuance to it – that Americans and Canadians can understand and connect with. At least even if I hadn’t seen your post and the trailer – I’d have a better idea than if they brought it here and kept the original title – Dum Laga Ke Haisha

    Reply
    1. Kathy Post author

      We’re on the same page, Mike. YRF has tried to branch out into Hollywood recently, and it hasn’t gone well. The studio’s Grace of Monaco was jeered at Cannes, so it’s bypassing theaters and debuting on the Lifetime cable network on May 25. Instead of trying to make Hollywood films, YRF is missing a golden opportunity to appeal to non-Indian fans by doing what it does best: making Indian movies. The success of The Lunchbox and Slumdog Millionaire demonstrate that North American audiences enjoy movies set in India, so long as 1) the dialog is predominantly in English, and 2) the audience actually knows the movie exists. I’d love to see YRF make one English movie a year featuring Hindi-film stars, and then have them promote the hell out it in the US (psst…that includes advanced screenings for critics).

      Reply

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