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