Akshay Kumar’s period drama BellBottom released into theaters in India and abroad on August 19, 2021, heralding what could be the resumption of regular Hindi theatrical releases (fingers crossed). While cinema restrictions still in place in India limited the film’s earnings potential there, BellBottom‘s North American collections provide some insight into conditions here as well.
According to Bollywood Hungama, BellBottom earned a total of $274,753 from 100 theaters ($2,748 average) in North America in its opening four days. Here’s how those numbers break down by country:
USA – $148,074 from 74 screens = $2,001 average per screen
Canada – $126,679 from 26 screens = $4,872 average per screen
What immediately jumps out is Canada’s contribution of 46% of the total earnings. That’s a really high percentage. But what should we expect from a typical Akshay Kumar movie in North America?
Looking back at Kumar’s four 2019 releases — Kesari, Mission Mangal, Housefull 4, and Good Newwz — here’s what an average opening weekend looked like:
- 240 theaters — 30 theaters in Canada and 210 in the US
- $1.1 million total earnings
- 24% of the earnings from Canada
The amazing thing to me is that the number of theaters showing BellBottom in Canada is about what you’d expect it to be in non-COVID times. (Mission Mangal also opened in 26 theaters.) Compare that to BellBottom opening in about 1/3 of the theaters it would have in the United States, and you can see two very different theatrical landscapes at present.
So what does this mean for other Bollywood movies on the release calendar? Temper your expectations for what you can earn in North America. While earnings in Canada are well below what one would expect under pre-COVID conditions, the country’s theater landscape is downright robust compared to the anemic earnings and small footprint available to Hindi films in the US. BellBottom‘s $2,748 per-screen average is respectable compared to Hollywood theatrical releases right now, but that’s for a highly anticipated film from a marquee star. A smaller movie like Chehre will earn much, much less. I suspect it’s going to be a while before the US is again a big contributor to a Hindi film’s box office haul.