Fox Star Studios probably wishes the North American box office reports for Mr. X would disappear, because the numbers are awful. In its second weekend, Mr. X earned $7,572 from 17 theaters ($445 average), bringing its total earnings to $48,213. Considering Mr. X‘s opening weekend average of $400 per screen and Week 2’s $445, each of those stalwart 17 theaters will be lucky to have earned $1,000 total from ten days of showing of Mr. X.
As in its opening weekend, Mr. X proved vastly more popular in Canada in Week 2 than in the US. It earned $6,283 from ten Canadian theaters ($628 average), but just $1,289 from seven American theaters ($184 average).
On the other hand, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! performed very well in its fourth weekend. DBB brought in another $20,846 from 11 theaters ($1,895 average), bringing its reported North American total to $598,376 (though I suspect that’s a bit low). What’s notable about DBB‘s fourth weekend earnings is that they are more than double that of Badlapur, which reported the next highest fourth weekend returns this year ($7,905). Eight Hindi movies have run for at least four weeks in North American theaters in 2015.
Other Hindi films showing in North America during the weekend of April 24-26, 2015:
Nanak Shah Fakir: Week 2; $14,656 from 9 theaters ($1,628 average); $90,901 total
Dharam Sankat Mein: Week 3; $2,179 from 4 theaters ($545 average); $12,809 total
Mr. X wasn’t just invisible onscreen, but at the North American box office as well. Emraan Hashmi’s latest tanked hard in its opening weekend, from April 17-19, 2015. According to Box Office Mojo, Mr. X earned $30,097 from 52 theaters ($579 average). Considering the higher ticket prices that accompanied 3D showings of the film in some theaters, that total is atrocious.
The opening weekend figures for Mr. Xreported by Bollywood Hungama are broken out by country, and that’s where the story gets really interesting. Of the $24,806 from 62 North American theaters ($400 average) Bollywood Hungama reports for Mr. X, $13,528 came from 52 theaters in the U.S. and $11,278 came from 10 theaters in Canada. That means that Mr. X was vastly more popular in Canada, with per-screen average earnings of $1,128 compared to an average of just $260 in the U.S.
Further proof of Mr. X‘s failure is that it got beat by another Hindi movie that didn’t even have an IMDb page until five days after it opened in theaters. Nanak Shah Fakir posted opening weekend earnings of $47,727 from 50 theaters ($955 average).
Also trouncing Mr. X was Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!, now in its third week of release. According to Bollywood Hungama, it added another $50,038 from 31 theaters ($1,614 average). Bollywood Hungama reports total North American earnings for DBB of $568,398, which is less than the total earnings Box Office Mojo reported for the movie after its second weekend ($579,055). However, Box Office Mojo doesn’t presently have any DBB Week 3 data at all. My hunch is that DBB has earned more than $600,000 in North America by this point, but I can’t prove it.
Somehow, Dharam Sankat Mein lingered for a second weekend in six North American theaters, adding another $1,413 ($236 average) to bring its total to $9,948.
When I described the plot of Mr. X to my father and brother, they both asked: “If you can’t see the hero, then why is the movie in 3D?” Good question. Having seen the movie, the best answer I can give is that director Vikram Bhatt is the market for a yacht and wants to pay for it with the 3D upcharge for tickets.
The use of a pointless 3D gimmick fits in a movie that is a collection of half-baked ideas. It’s a romantic revenge critique of the Indian justice system with a side of superhero origin story that’s also a sci-fi action thriller about an invisible cop.
Emraan Hashmi plays Raghu, an anti-terrorism agent in love with a fellow agent, Siya (Amyra Dastur). In order to save Siya’s life, Raghu is blackmailed into publicly murdering the Chief Minister.
Raghu flees, only to be cornered by his blackmailers and tossed into a pit of chemicals, a la the Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman. He survives an explosion at the chemical plant, but not without severe radiation poisoning.
Raghu’s friend Popo’s sister (stay with me) works at a pharmaceutical company, and she gives Raghu an experimental drug that will either cure the radiation poisoning or kill him immediately. He lives, with the side effect that he’s now invisible except in sunlight or under blue neon lights.
In the course of taking revenge on those who tried to murder him, Raghu encounters his greatest obstacle: Siya, who is all impulse, no introspection. She never questions why a good cop like Raghu killed the Chief Minister, deciding that their love must have been a lie and professing to hate him. When he finally tells her what really happened, she loves him again.
The reunion is short-lived, because she pulls a gun on him when he rejects her plan to arrest the culprits in favor of just killing them. Her feelings are absolute, until they change completely.
What’s funny is that Siya’s law-and-order approach actually works until Raghu shows up with a gun and sparks a hostage situation. He claims to be a “protector of justice” while actively working against a system that seems functional.
All this is to set up Raghu/Mr. X as a kind of folk hero, and Bhatt uses my least favorite Bollywood trope to do so: the man-on-the-street interview. A news report is interspersed with shots of everyday dopes praising Mr. X with stupid crap like, “I’ve heard Mr. X is totally cute.”
The problem — besides the sheer laziness behind this trope — is that the public doesn’t know the motive for Mr. X’s murders. They don’t know that he was set up. As far as anyone knows, the people Mr. X kills are upstanding public servants, yet the moronic interviewees hail Mr. X as a superhero.
As mentioned above, the 3D adds nothing to the film. However, the CGI invisibility effects are pretty good. Raghu appears and disappears smoothly as he moves from light to shadow, with sometimes only parts of his body disappearing. Bhatt uses the lighting to direct the audience to areas in each shot where Raghu is likely to turn invisible.
However, the practical effects leave a lot to be desired. A chase scene in which Raghu disappears leaves us with a visual of a wobbly, riderless motorbike being pulled along by an offscreen mechanism. It looks equally dumb when Raghu vanishes while holding Siya in his arms, making her appear to float in mid-air. The film’s fight choreography is awful.
Raghu is a hard guy to like because he doesn’t show much personality, except for when Siya makes him mad and his eyes get all buggy. It’s not Hashmi’s most interesting role by a long shot. Dastur is at least committed to Siya’s absolute sense of morality, but she needs to train her voice not to sound so shrieky when she screams. Siya’s wardrobe is outstanding.
Mr. X rates high in terms of novelty, but its execution doesn’t justify an overpriced 3D ticket.