Update: Box Office Mojo lists PK‘s North American earnings as $3,565,258 from 272 theaters ($13,108 average). The movie finished in ninth place overall in the weekend rankings, just behind Top Five and ahead of Penguins of Madagascar.
Aamir Khan’s PK just posted the biggest opening weekend for a Hindi film in North America in 2014. During the weekend of December 19-21, 2014, it earned $3,508,980 from 296 theaters ($11,855 average). That total already puts it in third place for the year behind The Lunchbox and Happy New Year. PK will claim the top spot in a matter of days.
What remains to be seen is how close PK can come to matching the remarkable success of last year’s Dhoom 3, which earned $8,090,250 during its seven-week run in the United States and Canada. A more attainable goal is the $6,533,849 earned by 2009’s 3 Idiots, the previous collaboration between Khan and director Rajkumar Hirani.
Action Jackson closed out its three-week run by adding $179 from three theaters ($60 average), bringing its North American total to $256,872.
It was a slow weekend for Bollywood movies at the North American box office, thanks to an absence of new titles and competition from Rajnikanth’s Tamil-Telugu blockbuster Lingaa (which earned $1,343,151 from 136 theaters in the United States and Canada).
Action Jackson added just $19,753 from 50 theaters ($395 average), bringing its two-week total to $215,002. AJ‘s business dropped nearly 89% from Week 1 to Week 2.
Happy Ending added another $580 from two theaters in its fourth weekend, bringing its total North American earnings to $247,511.
In its third weekend, Ungli added $328 from two theaters to bring its total earnings to $78,864. Those two theaters — one in the U.S. and one in Canada — posted very different returns. The Canadian theater contributed $322 to the total, while the American theater earned just $6. That means that, over the course of the whole weekend, only one person watched Ungli (and likely purchased a matinee priced ticket). Wow.
Action Jackson just posted the latest in the string of lousy box office performances by Bollywood movies in North America. Since the release of Happy New Year on October 24, 2014, all but two of the newly released Hindi movies have fallen short on a key performance metric.
That metric is per-screen average: the average amount earned by individual theaters showing a particular movie in a particular weekend. In North America in 2014, the median opening weekend per-screen average of the fifty Hindi movies for which I have reliable data is $1,971.
Here are the opening weekend per-screen averages of all the movies that have released here since HNY:
Action Jackson: $1,374 ($171,795 from 125 theaters)
Kill Dil opened with a per-screen average a few dollars above the median, and Bhopal‘s average was one of the highest of the year. Granted, Bhopal was a limited release that never played in more than two theaters at once.
There’s another factor to consider that makes many of these low per-screen averages look even worse in context: theater count. The median opening weekend theater count for Hindi films in North America in 2014 is 70.5. Given their comparatively low theater counts, distributors obviously didn’t expect Super Nani and Roar to take the box office by storm (they were right).
However, distributors were clearly expecting much more from star-driven films Happy Ending and Action Jackson. Both movies fall in the upper quartile of this year’s opening weekend theater counts (123 theaters and above). You don’t open in that many theaters unless you think you’ve got a hit on your hands.
It’s worth noting that the only other film in that upper quartile to earn less than the median per-screen average in its first weekend is Humshakals, Saif Ali Khan’s only other release in 2014 besides Happy Ending. Unless he’s planning to make Love Aaj Kal 2, opening weekend theater counts of fewer than 100 seem more reasonable for Khan in North America.
It’s as though most of the Bollywood fan base in the United States and Canada decided to take Fall off and stay home until Aamir Khan’s P.K. opens on December 19. Here’s hoping that film can close out 2014 with a bang.
If you were hoping for something new from director Prabhu Deva, you’ll be disappointed. Action Jackson (which isn’t actually a character’s name in film) is just as disorganized and misogynistic as R… Rajkumar and Rowdy Rathore, despite a solid effort by leading man Ajay Devgn.
I’ll do my best to spoil as little as possible about the plot, but it’s hard to do so given how all-over-the-place the story is.
Devgn plays Vishi, a typical macho Bollywood hero who’s prone to drinking and fighting but has a heart of gold. While visiting his friend Musa (Kunaal Roy Kapoor, butt of the film’s many fat jokes) in Mumbai, Vishi meets pathologically unlucky Khushi (Sonakshi Sinha).
Khushi’s luck changes for the better after she walks in on Vishi in a changing room and then in a bathroom. She starts hanging around him in the hopes of catching Vishi with his pants down again, thereby making her lucky enough to land a rich, American husband.
The first hour of the film is spent on Vishi’s and Khushi’s budding romance, and it’s pretty funny. Prabhu Deva pokes fun at Devgn’s limited dance abilities by making Vishi bust moves whenever he hears music. Devgn’s “robot” is among the worst I’ve ever seen, and it’s all the more charming because of it.
As competent as he is at action, Devgn’s best genre is comedy. He’s quite funny in his storyline with Sinha, who pairs with him nicely.
Interspersed through the romantic storyline are scenes of goons and cops hunting for Vishi at the behest of a Bangkok-based don named Xavier. This story arc takes over after about an hour, and Sinha only shows up a few more times in the film.
The next portion of the film is a flashback about the Xavier’s former right-hand man, AJ (also Devgn, though I won’t specify how Vishi and AJ are connected). After establishing a light, cute tone at the start, the flashback is stunningly brutal.
When Prabhu Deva tries to reestablish a comedic tone later in Action Jackson, it doesn’t work. It took time to cast that comic spell, and it can’t be brought back instantaneously. Plus, after watching a AJ’s wife (Yami Gautam) get punched in the face repeatedly, I just wasn’t in the mood to laugh.
The flashback is also when Prabhu Deva’s troubling view of women — and specifically their sexuality — rears its ugly head again. Like Sinha, Gautam also plays a virtuous character (whose name I’m not sure of). We know this because they both wear floral prints, and usually long pants and long-sleeved tops. Their only desire is to get their men to give up drinking and fighting.
In contrast is Marina (Manasvi Mamgai), the don’s sister. She’s introduced after she’s been kidnapped, and AJ is sent to rescue her. Her kidnappers threaten to rape her, throwing water on her white blouse before unbuttoning it to reveal her bedazzled bra.
Hypothetical question: if Xavier had a brother instead of a sister, would the kidnappers have threatened to rape him?
Prabhu Deva makes an unsettling choice during the scene of AJ’s rescue attempt. Marina gets turned on while AJ chops down her would-be attackers. The song playing in the background — a blatant rip-off of Michael Bublé’s “Feeling Good” — sings about her beauty as she sits aroused in a forced state of semi-undress.
After her rescue, bikini-clad Marina sexually propositions AJ. He turns her down, prompting Marina to send Xavier’s goons to attack the character played by Gautam. They hit her, but they don’t threaten her with sexual violence.
So the chaste, modestly dressed woman isn’t threatened with rape, but the sexually aggressive, scantily clad woman is. The implication is that, for a woman who enjoys consensual sex, rape probably isn’t a big deal. Hell, she might even like it.
Will producers please stop giving Prabhu Deva money to direct films? He can’t do it responsibly. Given that I was the only one in my showing of Action Jackson, maybe other people are as sick of his movies as I am.
The Indo-Canadian English-language comedy Dr. Cabbie gets a second week at MovieMax, South Barrington 30, and Cantera 17.
Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend include Chakkiligintha (Telugu w/no subtitles) at Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge and MovieMax, which is also showing Undile Manchi Kalam Mundu Munduna (Telugu), Dolphins (Malayalam), and Kaaviya Thalaivan (Tamil).
The trailer for the December 5 release Action Jackson is out. It doesn’t do much to alleviate my concerns about the film’s potential for casual misogyny, a Prabhu Deva hallmark. However, it does feature Ajay Devgn chopping people with swords, which makes Action Jackson an automatic “must see.” Check it out: