Two big Diwali releases met very different fates at the North American box office during the weekend of October 28-30, 2016. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was a resounding success, taking in $2,091,290 from 331 theaters ($6,318 average). That’s already good enough for fourth place in North America for the year. Though Sultan‘s chart-topping $6 million total is out of reach, lifetime earnings in excess of $5 million are possible for ADHM if interest remains high. Even if business drops off quickly, $4 million is doable.
Moviegoers gave the cold shoulder to Ajay Devgn’s mountaineering thriller Shivaay, the weekend’s other new film. Opening in fewer than half as many theaters as ADHM — 143, to be exact — Shivaay earned just $332,423 ($2,325 average). That’s only the year’s 18th best opening weekend gross, despite Shivaay releasing into the ninth highest number of theaters (the same number of theaters as Baar Baar Dekho, which earned more than $600,000 its first weekend).
Karan Johar romantic dramas are as sure a bet in the United States and Canada as you’ll find. North America contributed almost 20% of ADHM‘s $11+ million worldwide total. In contrast, the US and Canada accounted for about 5% of Shivaay‘s $6 million global total. Knowing how much attention ADHM was going to get here, would it have been advisable to employ Hollywood’s international release strategy to Shivaay, preponing or postponing its North American release by a week? Heck, even opening it on Wednesday might have earned another $100,000. I don’t know if such a strategy would be feasible — though I reject piracy as a reason, since those people wouldn’t pay to go to the theater anyway — but it would certainly have allowed Shivaay to save face, if nothing else.
Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:
- M.S. Dhoni: Week 5; $3,153 from six theaters; $526 average; $1,823,682 total
- Pink: Week 7; $702 from one theater; $1,248,883 total
- 31st October: Week 2; $261 from two theaters; $131 average; $8,490 total