Hindi films without A-list stars always face challenges at the North American box office, but February 17-19, 2017, seemed to be an especially difficult weekend for smaller titles. Here’s how the three new releases fared during the weekend in the United States and Canada:
- The Ghazi Attack [combined earnings for Hindi, Telugu, & Tamil-dubbed versions]: $394,269 from 89 theaters* ($4,430 average); total including Thursday previews = $439,772
- Irada: $13,134 from 31 theaters ($424 average)
- Running Shaadi: $10,260 from 58 theaters ($177 average)
*Here’s my weekly caveat that my main source, Bollywood Hungama, often counts the Canadian theaters twice in their opening weekend totals. The correct theater counts as confirmed by Sumit Chadha (and the adjusted averages) are as follows: The Ghazi Attack — 90 theaters, $4,381 avg.; Irada — 27 theaters, $486 avg.; Running Shaadi — 51 theaters, $201 avg.
Though The Ghazi Attack fared well, the figures for Irada and Running Shaadi are unmistakably bad. However, it’s worth pointing out a couple of mitigating factors at work this weekend. First, there are presently seven Hindi films showing in the US. Here’s how the older releases fared at the box office over the weekend:
- Jolly LLB 2: Week 2; $345,480 from 190 theaters; $1,818 average; (*166 theaters, $2,081 avg.); $1,408,472 total
- Raees: Week 4; $38,169 from 18 theaters; $2,121 average; $3,595,707 total
- Kaabil: Week 4; $10,185 from ten theaters; $1,019 average; $1,409,691 total
- Dangal: Week 9; $4,840 from four theaters; $1,210 average; $12,340,930 total
Not only did the new releases face stiff competition from Jolly LLB 2 — which held on to almost half of its opening weekend earnings in its second weekend — the three oldest releases also had better per-theater average earnings than either Irada or Running Shaadi.
However, competition isn’t the whole story. According to Box Office Mojo, business at the overall North American box office was down over 20% from the previous weekend, and the share of business for Indian and Pakistani films in North America dropped by roughly the same percentage. Whether due to a hangover following high-profile Hollywood and Bollywood releases last weekend or unseasonably warm weather in big markets like New York and Chicago drawing people outdoors, this was a tough weekend for new releases across the board.