I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with a major new addition to the catalog. Aamir Khan’s 2016 smash hit Dangal is now available for streaming. If you’re looking for a movie the whole family can enjoy, Dangal fits the bill perfectly. The London-set Desi comedy Amar Akbar & Tony was also recently added to the service. For everything else new on Netflix (Bollywood or not), check Instant Watcher.
Rangoon opened to okay numbers in North America. During the weekend of February 24-26, 2017, the World War II drama earned $310,077 from 114 theaters, average earnings of $2,720 per theater. This is not an atypical performance for a film by director Vishal Bhardwaj here, especially when his movies center upon a female lead character as opposed to a male lead character. His two other female-led movies — 2011’s 7 Khoon Maaf and 2013’s Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola — posted opening weekend earnings of $164,153 and $338,726, respectively, and both finished with total earnings of less than $500,000. By contrast, Bhardwaj’s films about male lead characters — 2006’s Omkara, 2009’s Kaminey, and 2014’s Haider — all opened better ($427,400; $726,834; and $538,999, respectively) and all finished their North American runs with earnings in excess of $1 million.
The Ghazi Attack turned in the second best performance for an Indian film in North America over the weekend. In its second weekend of release, it earned $109,045 from 74 theaters ($1,474 average), bringing its total earnings to $678,013. I suspect most theaters have stopped carrying the Hindi version of the film, and that the weekend’s earnings are attributable almost exclusively to the Telugu version.
The two other Hindi films in their second weekend of release did god-awful business here. Irada earned $147 from three theaters ($49 average), bringing its total to $19,112, while Running Shaadi took in $110 from two theaters ($55 average), bringing its total to $15,428. Jeepers.
Other Bollywood movies still in North American theaters:
- Jolly LLB 2: Week 3; $75,423 from 57 theaters; $1,323 average; $1,630,972 total
- Raees: Week 5; $7,837 from eight theaters; $980 average; $3,629,128 total
- Dangal: Week 10; $2,575 from two theaters; $1,288 average; $12,357,576 total
- Kaabil: Week 5; $259 from two theaters; $130 average; $1,412,501 total
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.
There’s something fascinating going on with Akshay Kumar’s box office returns in North America, and I’m not sure how to make sense of it. His latest film — Jolly LLB 2 — earned $743,719 from 197 theaters ($3,775 average) in the United States and Canada during its opening weekend of February 10-12, 2017. (Box Office Mojo lists the film as opening in 173 total theaters, making for an average of $4,299 per theater.) This total is consistent with the opening weekend returns of Kumar’s three 2016 releases — Airlift, Housefull 3, and Rustom — which ranged from $674,890 for Housefull 3 on the low-end and $815,933 for Airlift on the high-end. The only difference is that Jolly LLB 2 opened in sixty more theaters than Housefull 3, Kumar’s biggest release of last year, so one would’ve expected larger returns with Jolly LLB 2‘s wider release.
Here’s where things get weird. Kumar released four films in 2015: Baby, Gabbar is Back, Brothers, and Singh Is Bliing. Those four films opened in an average of 140 theaters — ranging from 99 for Baby to 181 for Brothers — so their opening weekend theatrical footprint was slightly larger than the average opening weekend theater count of 122 for his three 2016 releases (though still smaller than Jolly LLB 2‘s 197 theaters). The average total earnings for Kumar’s four 2015 releases was $721,024. Yet, Kumar’s three 2016 releases plus Jolly LLB 2 earned an average of $747,887 in their opening weekends! In the span of a year, Kumar became popular enough in North America than his films now earn the same amount in one weekend as they earned over their entire theatrical lifespan in 2015! How the heck does that happen?!
Those earnings aren’t just front-loaded, either. Kumar’s films have seen their box office longevity increase as well. In 2015, the average Kumar movie finished its theatrical run with a total that was 1.91 times the amount it earned in its opening weekend. In 2016, that average multiplier jumped to 2.26.
The other impressive anomaly at the North American box office this weekend is Dangal‘s performance in its eighth weekend in theaters. It earned $11,441 from six theaters ($1,907 average), bringing its total to $12,329,706. This is notable because Bollywood movies don’t earn more than $10,000 in a weekend by this point in their life-cycles. Even though Kapoor & Sons hung around theaters for ten weeks last spring, it stopped earning five figures after its sixth weekend.
Other Hindi movies showing in US and Canadian theaters:
- Raees: Week 3; $105,069 from 63 theaters; $1,668 average; $3,508,519 total
- Kaabil: Week 3; $40,343 from 34 theaters; $1,187 average; $1,373,722 total
2017 is just over a month old, and two Hindi films have already earned more than $1 million in the United States and Canada! Here’s how Bollywood movies fared in North American theaters during the weekend of February 3-5, 2017:
- Raees: Week 2; $510,661 from 226 theaters; $2,260 average; $3,269,479 total
- Kaabil: Week 2; $221,814 from 142 theaters; $1,562 average; $1,256,860 total
- Dangal: Week 7; $35,899 from 15 theaters; $2,393 average; $12,312,239 total
Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama
After a very good opening weekend for Raees and a not so good opening weekend for Kaabil, both films stick around Chicago area theaters for a second week. Starting Friday, February 3, 2017, both movies carry over at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, MovieMax Cinemas in Niles, Regal Round Lake Beach Stadium 18 in Round Lake Beach, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville, and AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge.
Additionally, Raees gets a second weekend at Muvico Rosemont 18 in Rosemont, while Kaabil carries over at Marcus Addison Cinema in Addison and Century Stratford Square in Bloomingdale. Dangal gets a seventh weekend at the South Barrington 30.
Growing Up Smith — a cute story about an Indian-American boy’s childhood in Oklahoma in 1979 — opens on Friday at the South Barrington 30. Stars Roni Akurati and Anjul Nigam will be at the South Barrington 30 for two special screenings of the film on Monday, February 6, at 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. The specific theater for the screenings only holds 36 people (including two spaces for wheelchairs), so buy your tickets in advance.
Other Indian movies showing in the Chicago area this weekend:
- Nenu Local (Telugu w/English subtitles) and Bogan (Tamil w/English subtitles) at MovieMax and Cinemark at Seven Bridges in Woodridge
- Enakku Vaaitha Adimaigal (Tamil), Kirik Party (Kannada), Jomonte Suvisheshangal (Malayalam), Sathamanam Bhavati (Telugu w/English subtitles), Gautamiputra Satakarni (Telugu w/English subtitles), and Khaidi No. 150 (Telugu w/English subtitles) at MovieMax
There was a decisive winner in the first Bollywood box office battle of 2017. Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees bested the collections of Hrithik Roshan’s Kaabil in North America by a factor of 3:1. During the weekend of January 27-29, 2017, Raees earned $1,742,565 from 289 theaters* ($6,030 average). Including collections from Wednesday and Thursday — both films opened on January 25 — Raees‘s total stands at $2,313,656.
Kaabil‘s total earnings since Wednesday are $781,064, with $631,923 of that coming from 253 theaters ($2,498 average) over the weekend.
The problem for Roshan isn’t that Kaabil failed to match Raees‘s earnings. It’s that this is the second consecutive box office showdown he’s lost. Last year, Roshan’s Mohenjo Daro finished second to Akshay Kumar’s Rustom despite opening in over 100 more theaters than Kumar’s film. In fact, Kaabil‘s opening weekend per-theater average of $2,498 is worse than Mohenjo Daro‘s $3,073 average. Even including earnings from Wednesday and Thursday, Kaabil‘s 5-day per-theater average is just $3,087. Given that Mohenjo Daro was widely derided as a flop, what does that make Kaabil?
Kaabil is going to earn more than $1 million here in the United States and Canada, which is good, but each battle lost diminishes Roshan’s perceived star-power. He’s not on the same level as the Three Khans, and last year’s battle shows him to be less popular here than Kumar at the moment. Even though Kaabil fared better in India relative to Raees, it still finished second. The scheduled Christmas, 2018 box office rematch between Roshan and Khan seems like another battle Roshan is destined to lose.
Other Hindi films still in North American theaters:
- Dangal: Week 6; $77,817 from 30 theaters; $2,594 average; $12,255,617 total
- OK Jaanu: Week 3; $131 from one theater; $351,054 total
*In the event that Bollywood Hungama’s North American theater figure actually counts Canadian theaters twice (as has happened in the past), the revised averages are $6,576 at 265 theaters for Raees and $2,772 at 228 theaters for Kaabil.