With no new Hindi movies opening in the U.S. or Canada on Friday, May 2, 2014, old favorites continued to pull in crowds at the North American box office. The Lunchbox — now in its tenth week — earned $255,736 from 141 screens ($1,814 average), bringing its total earnings to $2,968,497 so far.
2 States also held up well in its third week. It earned $167,377 from ninety-one screens ($1,839 average) to bring its total North American earnings to $1,978,594.
With The Lunchbox set to pass $3 million in North American earnings this week and 2 States about to the clear the $2 million mark, it’s worth noting the significance of these achievements. Both movies are romantic dramas, as opposed to action-packed spectacles. Neither film features A-list superstars (industry and audience respect for Irrfan Khan notwithstanding).
A look at the last five years of box office receipts reveals similarities among the sixteen Hindi films that managed to earn more than $2 million in North America during that period (five in 2013, five in 2012, two in 2011, one in 2010, and two in 2009). Four films are action sequels: Dhoom 3, Krrish 3, Dabangg 2, and Don 2. A small list of actors show up in multiple movies on the list:
Hrithik Roshan: Krrish 3 and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara
[Somebody in Bollywood needs to cash in by bringing back Shahrukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan for Ra.Two, featuring Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif as the villains.]
The Lunchbox continues to earn big, thanks to its partnership with a Hollywood distributor — Sony Pictures Classics — which has dramatically expanded its potential audience compared to a typical Hindi film. Though movie adaptations of popular books are far rarer in India than in Hollywood, the success of 2 States should start to change that.
The only other Hindi movie showing in the U.S. the weekend of May 2-4 was Queen. Now in its ninth week, it earned $190 from one theater, bringing its total earnings to $1,417,405.
Shanghai is the only new Hindi movie opening in the Chicago area the weekend beginning June 8, 2012, and it looks promising. The thriller stars two of my favorite actors — Kalki Koechlin and Abhay Deol — in a tale of politically motivated murder.
For a second weekend, there are no new Hindi films opening in Chicago area theaters. That should change next week with the release of Agneepath, which stars Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra and Sanjay Dutt.
As independent films make their way into theaters in advance of Oscar season, there’s little screenspace available for Bollywood movies without all-star casts. Accordingly, there are no new Hindi movies opening in the Chicago area the weekend beginning Friday, January 13, 2012.
2012 kicks off in star-studded style when the Bollywood action film Players hits theaters on January 6. The remake of The Italian Job (complete with Mini Coopers) stars Abhishek Bachchan, Bipasha Basu, Sonam Kapoor, Bobby Deol and Neil Nitin Mukesh.
Given how well Don 2 has performed during its first two weeks in theaters, it’s no surprise that the 3D heist film carries over for a third week at all of the above theaters. Its total U.S. haul stands at $3,288,692.
Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include Beautiful (Malayalam), Rajanna (Telugu) and Rajapattai (Tamil).
2006’s Don was the first Hindi movie I saw in a theater, so it has a special place in my heart. It is a fun thriller with a sense of humor. Don 2 doesn’t do its predecessor justice.
In fact, Don 2 hardly even acknowledges the movie that spawned it. Sure, the international supervillain/anti-hero Don (Shahrukh Khan) is back, as is his archrival, Vardhaan (Boman Irani), and the cops Malik (Om Puri) and Roma (Priyanka Chopra). But five years have passed since the audience last saw this group together.
A few lines of dialog explaining Roma’s desire for justice — in the last movie, Don tricked her into falling in love with him after killing her brother — would’ve been helpful reminders for the audience. The movie’s few indirect references to past events are meaningless to anyone who missed the first movie.
Don 2 opens with a European drug kingpin putting a hit on Don. This sets up a huge fight scene in Thailand, but the storyline is subsequently dropped until the very end of the film. Surely, there must have been a way to trigger a fight scene in a way that relates to the rest of the plot.
The story truly begins when Don gets himself thrown into a Malaysian jail in order to help the imprisoned Vardhaan escape. Don wants to steal some money-printing plates from a bank in Germany, and Vardhaan has information that can be used to blackmail one of the head bankers. The former enemies put aside their mutual hatred and work together.
The story of the heist is amusing enough, and the cast members act their parts well. But the whole affair feels underwhelming, due primarily to the film being presented in 3D.
3D has the effect of dimming the images on screen, so Don 2 lacks the vibrancy of recent Excel Entertainment productions like Game and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. It’s a shame not to be able to see Thailand, Switzerland and Germany in their usual splendor. The 3D also dims the tiny English subtitles to near illegibility.
Apart from one exciting car chase through Berlin, there aren’t enough scenes that warrant the addition of 3D. Fight scenes in close quarters feel muddled by the effect, and the gimmick doesn’t enhance the story.
More disappointing than the lackluster visuals is the lackluster story, specifically Roma’s role in it. The film emphasizes a lingering romantic tension between Roma and Don but drops the ball in regard to her real reason for being in the film: she’s foremost a police officer intent on catching a notorious criminal. As she’s written, she’s not a very good police officer.
Roma is not only a step behind Don at all times, she’s a step behind the audience. She struggles to discern the identity of a man in a police sketch so accurate it might as well have the guy’s name written on it. The two times she manages to “capture” Don, it’s not a result of her police work. The first time, he turns himself in. Later, he’s ratted out by a co-conspirator.
It’s a real disservice to Chopra that her character is so poorly written. In Chopra’s hands, Roma is tenacious yet likeable, and handy in a fight. Lara Dutta’s moll character, Ayesha, similarly could’ve been better developed.
The experience of watching Don 2 isn’t entirely unpleasant. It’s a mostly-competent heist movie that gives a nod to earlier films in the genre, particularly in terms of its evocative musical score. But it could have — and should have — been so much more.
Don returns, this time in 3D! The sequel to 2006’s Don: The Chase Begins Again — technically titled Don 2: The King is Back — reunites Shahrukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Om Puri and Boman Irani from the original cast. Director Farhan Akhtar returns as well.
For a complete list of U.S. theaters showing Don 2, click here (thanks to Gitesh at Box Office Guru for the link). The movie has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 25 min.
Other Indian movies showing at the Golf Glen 5 over the Christmas holiday weekend include Rajanna (Telugu), Rajapattai (Tamil), Rajendra (Telugu) and Venicile Vyapari (Malayalam).
* – Because of family commitments, I won’t be able to see Don 2 until Tuesday at the earliest. If you’ve seen the film and would like to comment on it, please do so at the bottom of this post. I hope the movie lives up to its exciting trailer.