Tag Archives: 1920 London

Bollywood Horror Movies at the North American Box Office

Bollywood horror movies are notorious duds at the North American box office. They open in a handful of theaters, make next to nothing, and disappear quickly. When Anushka Sharma announced that she would star in the horror film Pari — produced by her own company, Clean Slate Films — it raised the question of whether her presence as a marquee star could boost a genre movie’s ceiling internationally.

Horror films remain on the fringes of Bollywood. Most aren’t released in theaters internationally and are left to find their way into homes via DVD or streaming video. Still, when the Hindi film industry collectively decided (deliberately or not) in 2012 to increase the number of Bollywood movies released in North American theaters by a third — from 36 titles in 2011 to 48 in 2012, with an average of 50 Bollywood movies released here yearly since then — that left a lot of open slots to fill, leaving room for niche fare like horror flicks.

That’s not to say there was a Hindi horror boom in the United States and Canada. Most years only see one or two scary films released in theaters, plus a few titles that aren’t traditional horror fare like the horror comedy Go Goa Gone or the survival horror flick Roar: Tigers of the Sundarbans.

Pari released in 45 theaters in North America: nine in Canada and 36 in the United States. That’s one more theater than carried NH10 — the maiden production from Sharma’s Clean Slate Films — back in 2015, but 42 fewer than the 87 that carried Clean Slate’s romantic comedy Phillauri last year (all numbers per Bollywood Hungama). Still, for a Hindi horror movie in North America, 45 theaters is about as big a theatrical footprint as you’ll find.

For the purposes of comparing to Pari, let’s look at other supernatural horror movies (which make up the bulk of Bollywood horror flicks). Here’s how such films have fared in North America over the years, in terms of: number of theaters they opened in; how much they earned total in their opening weekend; the average amount earned per theater in that opening weekend; and their final earnings total.

2012
Raaz 3: 28 theaters; $95,301; $3,404 average; $150,716 total
Bhoot Returns: 15 theaters; $3,478; $232 average; $3,478 total

2013
Ek Thi Daayan: 48 theaters; $65,857; $1,372 average; $112,135 total

2014
Ragini MMS 2: 20 theaters; $16,317; $815 average; $16,317 total

2016
1920 London: 38 theaters; $16,204; $426 average; $24,854 total

2017
Dobaara: See Your Evil: 30 theaters; $7,110; $237 average; $11,002 total

2018
1921: 10 theaters; $4,583; $458 average; $7,850 total

Pari opened with earnings of $118,906 — better than the final totals of all but one film in the list above (Raaz 3). Pari‘s $2,642 per-theater average was less than Raaz 3‘s $3,404 average, which only proves that Raaz 3 deserved a higher theater count than it got.

Where Pari really differentiated itself was in its second weekend performance. It held onto 54% of its opening weekend business ($64,247), which was leaps and bounds ahead of Raaz 3‘s 27% retention rate and Ek Thi Daayan‘s 21% carry over. By the end of its third weekend, Pari had earned $320,641 — more than double the next highest total on the list above.

The major takeaway from these numbers is that Hindi films in niche genres are more heavily dependent upon star power than those in more popular genres like romantic comedy or drama. The numbers also demonstrate which stars are able to draw North American Bollywood fans to the theater on their name alone. Sharma is obvious, as further bolstered by the box office success of her other home productions: NH10 ($319,872 total) and Phillauri ($471,522 total). Raaz 3 and Ek Thi Daayan star Emraan Hashmi is another clear box office draw, although his popular co-stars — Bipasha Bashu in Raaz 3 and the trio of Konkona Sen Sharma, Kalki Koechlin, and Huma Qureshi in Ek Thi Daayan — certainly helped. Both movies took in more than $100,000 here.

Yet no other recent Hindi horror film released theatrically in North America managed to earn even $25,000. Qureshi couldn’t do it opposite her real-life sibling, Saqib Saleem, in Dobaara. Despite their own name recognition and the fact that their movies were sequels, Sunny Leone and Sharman Joshi fell short with Ragini MMS 2 and 1920 London, respectively. With such dependence on the caliber of the cast, one wonders if Bollywood horror films without top-tier stars wouldn’t fare better by releasing straight to streaming services here in North America and skipping theaters entirely.

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Spooky Bollywood Movies on Netflix, 2017 Edition

With Halloween just days away, this is the perfect time to binge some frightening fare on Netflix. Thankfully, the streaming service has a number of Hindi horror films to keep you spooked all weekend long.

Before we dive into Bollywood, allow me to mention some spectacularly scary Korean movies that are also worth checking out. Netflix has my absolute favorite horror film, The Wailing, as well as the terrific zombie thriller Train to Busan and the gut-wrenching monster movie The Host. If you’ve ever wanted to hop on board the K-drama bandwagon, start with the 16-episode TV series Oh My Ghost (aka “Oh My Ghostess“) — a funny and surprisingly touching story of a timid prep cook possessed by the spirit of a horny virgin ghost.

Onto the Hindi horror films on Netflix!


1920 London (2016)
Sharma Joshi plays an exorcist tasked with removing an ancient Rajasthani curse from a London couple in the third film in the 1920 series.

 

 


Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007)
This time, Akshay Kumar is an exorcist who must displace the vengeful spirit of a court dancer from Vidya Balan. Balan’s performance in the thrilling climactic dance number is worth the price of admission, in my book.

 

 


Bhoothnath (2008)
A boy befriends a cantankerous old ghost, played by Amitabh Bachchan. A nice family comedy with a weirdly specific moral message.

 

 


Horror Story (2013)
This scary tale of college students trapped in haunted hotel is based on the Stephen King short story “1408“, which spawned a movie of the name starring John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson in 2007.

 

 


Machhali Jal Ki Rani Hai (2014)
The talented Swara Bhaskar of Nil Battey Sannata fame headlines this story of spiritual possession in a struggling factory town.

Streaming Video News: September 24, 2016

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with one new addition to the catalog. 1920 London is now available for streaming, following a brief theatrical run back in May. If you need to catch up on the first film in the horror series, 1920 is available for free on Amazon Prime.

In other Netflix news, three Indian TV series were recently added to the service: Ekaant, Mumbai Railway, and Siyaasat. Three other TV series — Adaalat, C.I.D., and Maharana Pratap — will expire from the service on October 15, exactly one year after they were added.

For everything else new on Netflix, check Instant Watcher.

Bollywood Box Office: May 27-29

Hindi films languished at the North American box office over the weekend, overshadowed by big budget Hollywood releases. From May 27-29, 2016, the four Bollywood movies still showing here earned a combined total of just $32,643. Theaters can’t wait for Friday’s release of Housefull 3, which will undoubtedly follow in its predecessors’ footsteps and earn over a million bucks.

The lion’s share of the weekend’s earnings went to Sarbjit, which took in $31,594 from 37 theaters ($854 average) in its second weekend of release. It posted a 76% drop in business from its first weekend, which is still better than Azhar‘s 85% plunge. Sarbjit‘s total North American earnings stand at $230,613.

Other Hindi movies still playing in the United States:

  • Azhar: Week 3; $960 from four theaters; $280 average; $191,847 total
  • Baaghi: Week 5; $69 from one theater; $437,098 total
  • 1920 London: Week 4; $20 from one theater; $24,854 total

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Bollywood Box Office: May 20-22

Last week, I wrote of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan: “Even her lowest earning movies are average performers compared to the rest of the field.” That proved true once again with Sarbjit, which earned $130,199 from 83 theaters ($1,569 average) in North America during the weekend of May 20-22, 2016. It had the tenth best opening weekend of 2016 out of a field of 21 films.

While that opening weekend performance seems okay, by a number of metrics, it’s not. Sarbjit debuted a week after another biopic — the Emraan Hashmi-starrer Azhar — earned almost the exact same amount ($127,266) from 32 fewer theaters, with a per-screen average of $2,495. Sarbjit‘s 83 theaters represent the lowest number of opening weekend screens for one of Rai Bachchan’s movies since 2008’s Sarkar Raj opened in 70 North American theaters. More significantly, Sarbjit‘s opening weekend total is Rai Bachchan’s lowest since 2003’s Kuch Naa Kaho, and that film only released in 32 theaters.

There could be multiple contributing factors at play, such as audience fatigue from consecutive biopics, or the fact that Rai Bachchan became the face of promotions for a movie in which she doesn’t even play the title character, but there’s something more going on here. Rai Bachchan’s presence in a movie no longer guarantees a $1 million haul, the way it did during her heyday. Surely she’ll have better luck with her next project: director Karan Johar’s multi-starrer Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.

In its second weekend, Azhar‘s business fell 85% from its opening weekend. Azhar earned $19,130 from 35 theaters ($547 average), bringing its total to $185,695.

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:

  • Baaghi: Week 4; $3,329 from six theaters; $555 average; $435,687 total
  • Kapoor & Sons: Week 10; $748 from one theater; $2,661,188 total
  • Fan: Week 6; $630 from two theaters; $315 average; $2,302,581 total
  • 1920 London: Week 3; $40 from one theater; $24,834 total

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening May 20: Sarbjit

Another Bollywood biopic comes to Chicago area theaters on May 20, 2016. In Sarbjit, Randeep Hooda plays an Indian farmer imprisoned for accidentally crossing the border into Pakistan. The story is told from the perspective of the main character’s sister, played by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

Sarbjit opens on Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 25 min.

All three of the above theaters give a second week to the sports biopic Azhar. The South Barrington 30 also carries over Baaghi and Fan, while MovieMax holds over 1920 London.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:

Bollywood Box Office: May 13-15

The biopic Azhar opened very well in North America, especially given the modest expectations governing its release here. During the weekend of May 13-15, 2016, Azhar earned $127,266 from 51 theaters ($2,495 average). While those may not seem like blockbuster numbers, consider this: 13 Hindi movies have released in more theaters than Azhar this year, but Azhar‘s opening weekend total ranks tenth for 2016, and its opening weekend average ranks seventh. No other Hindi movie to open in fewer than 80 theaters has averaged more than $2,000 per screen in its opening weekend. Of the ten other films released into fewer than 80 theaters this year, the second best opening weekend average is just $1,157 (Rocky Handsome, which opened in 74 theaters). Distributors were cautious given that Emraan Hashmi isn’t a huge draw here, but Azhar turned out to be a modest hit.

Other Hindi movies still showing in the United States and Canada:

  • Baaghi: Week 3; $19,342 from 27 theaters; $716 average; $423,418 total
  • Fan: Week 5; $5,018 from six theaters; $836 average; $2,301,200 total
  • 1920 London: Week 2; $984 from five theaters; $197 average; $24,084 total
  • Kapoor & Sons: Week 9; $727 from one theater; $2,660,140

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening May 13: Azhar

Emraan Hashmi plays cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin in the biopic Azhar, opening in the Chicago area on May 13, 2016.

Azhar opens on Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 10 min.

MovieMax and South Barrington 30 both carry over 1920 London and Fan, while Baaghi gets a third week at the South Barrington 30 and Cantera 17.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include:

Bollywood Box Office: May 6-8

1920 London‘s North American debut was predictably bad. From May 6-8, 2016, it earned $16,204 from 38 theaters ($426 average). Bollywood fans in the United States and Canada don’t have much appetite for horror films, particularly not when the biggest star in the cast is Sharman Joshi. However, just because fans here won’t go to the theater for horror films doesn’t mean they won’t watch them at all. I’d love to see some company revisit the idea of same-day rentals for movies that don’t merit a theatrical release in North America, especially for genre fare like this.

Baaghi‘s business fell by nearly 75% in its second weekend. It took in another $61,921 from 53 theaters ($1,168 average), bringing its total to $376,769.

In its fourth weekend, Fan earned $17,849 from 23 theaters ($776 average). Its total stands at $2,290,573. Fan should get a fifth weekend in a handful of theaters before its North American run comes to a close.

Kapoor & Sons hung around for an eighth weekend in one theater, earning $853 and bringing its total to $2,658,435.

Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Opening May 6: 1920 London

A new Hindi horror movie hits Chicago area theaters on May 6, 2016. Sharman Joshi stars in 1920 London, the third installment in the 1920 franchise. I won’t be reviewing this one in the theater, since I am a total chicken when it comes to scary movies. I’ll catch up with it when it becomes available digitally or on DVD.

1920 London opens Friday at MovieMax Cinemas in Niles and the AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. It has a listed runtime of 2 hours.

Baaghi carries over at both of the above theaters, plus the Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. Fan gets a fourth week at MovieMax, South Barrington 30, and Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie.

Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include: