I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix — which increased dramatically on December 31 with the addition of 60 Hindi films — with a January 30 release date for Karan Johar’s new series What the Love!. The official series description makes it sound like a show designed to appeal to Queer Eye fans: “With help from celebrity guests and a glam squad, filmmaker Karan Johar mentors six singletons through their personal struggles as they look for love.”
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.
I hope I get over my disappointment that Rang Rasiya isn’t opening in the Chicago area in time to enjoy The Shaukeens, which hits theaters on November 7, 2014. The remake of the 1982 film Shaukeen stars Anupam Kher, Annu Kapoor, and Piyush Mishra as a trio of older guys infatuated with Lisa Haydon, who herself pines for Akshay Kumar.
October 31 through November 2, 2014, proved to be a dud of a weekend for new Bollywood releases in the United States and Canada. According to Bollywood Hungama, Rekha’s big-screen return, Super Nani, pulled in just $26,746 from 44 theaters ($608 average per screen).
Super Nani‘s performance is nowhere near as embarrassing as that of Roar: Tigers of the Sundarbans, which grossed $4,927 from 50 theaters ($99 average). As awful at that opening weekend is, it’s still better than those of six other Hindi films that opened in North America this year: Siddharth ($4,564), Gang of Ghosts ($4,509), Karle Pyaar Karle ($3,110), Koyelaanchal ($1,762), Ya Rab ($1,404), and the big loser, Miss Lovely ($558). However, Roar opened on 28 more screens than the next biggest release in that list, Karle Pyaar Karle.
Happy New Year continued its strong performance through its second weekend, adding $693,696 from 239 theaters ($2,735 average) to bring its total to $3,184,576. It probably won’t have enough juice to bypass The Lunchbox‘s $4,050,393 total, but Happy New Year should finish its run in second place for the year by a wide margin.
In its fifth weekend of release, Bang Bang added another $3,002 from five Canadian theaters ($600 average), bringing its North American total to $2,586,394.
“I am unnecessarily putting all of you in danger,” says Pandit (Abhinav Shukla) to his soon-to-be-dead commandos. Yes, you are, Pandit. But if you didn’t, we wouldn’t have Roar: Tigers of the Sundarbans — an inept killer animal flick that is nevertheless tons of fun.
Pandit imperils his army buddies to settle a personal vendetta against a tiger. His photographer brother, Uday (Pulkit), rescued a white tiger cub from a poacher’s trap in the Sundarbans. Instead of just leaving the tiger alone, Uday brought the cub to his house, where it was collected by the rightfully pissed forest warden (Achint Kaur). The mother tiger followed her child’s scent to the house and killed Uday.
Neither Uday or Pandit ever comprehend why what Uday did was wrong. When a human steals a tiger cub from the forest, how exactly is a tiger supposed to differentiate between a poacher and a well-meaning photographer?
Armed with an unwavering sense of his own righteousness and a helluva lot of guns, Pandit heads into the forest to kill the tiger that killed his brother. (Never mind that killing tigers is illegal.) Pandit recruits a gaggle of fellow commandos, none of whom is given any meaningful character traits.
The exception is the lone female commando, CJ (Nora Fatehi), whose distinguishing character traits are her breasts. Her battle gear consists of a fishnet glove, skimpy shorts, and a camouflage bustier.
Lest the crew run short on cleavage, Pandit hires a sexy tracker, Jhumpa (Himarsha). She echoes the female warden’s warnings to Pandit that Uday’s death was merely the act of a mother protecting her child. Pandit brushes off their suggestion as womanly sentimentality. However, when a male poacher named Bheera (Subrat Dutta) says that Uday was killed because of the tiger’s protective maternal instincts, Pandit believes him immediately.
This unwillingness to believe the women is a good example of Pandit’s dominant trait: he’s an asshole. He shouts a lot and is mean to the people who try to help him on his pointless, fatal quest. He doesn’t do a single heroic thing in the movie.
After the tiger escapes Pandit’s first ridiculous trap — which involves suspending some of the gang up in the trees by jock straps — his team follows the tiger’s trail downriver, into some misty, mystical tiger homeworld. Legend has it that no one who has ever ventured past the mist has been heard from again. Yet the second CJ is separated from the group, some dudes try to rape her.
The acting in Roar is abysmal. The camerawork is terrible. The story is beyond stupid.
But that’s not why people like me pony up for absurd killer animal movies. It’s all about the bad CGI action, and boy, is there a lot of it in Roar. Though the movements of the white tigress were motion-captured from actual tigers (orange-colored ones), her coloring is painted on, making the whole creature look synthetic. The tigress swims through deep water, yet manages to find purchase and leap onto the team’s boat.
Most of the action consists of the crew posing while holding guns, but not moving much. That’s because the trees of the Sundarbans have to send their roots up through the ground in order to get oxygen during high tides. The ground looks as though there are 6-inch-long sticks poking out of it every few inches. As a result, chase scenes are laughably slow as the actors tip-toe through the woods trying not to impale their feet.
Roar‘s funniest quality is the morality governing Pandit’s quest. The theme of almost every recent killer animal and disaster movie that’s aired in the United States in recent years — primarily on the Syfy channel — is that humans have tampered with nature, and now nature is fighting back.
Pandit’s view is that nature is freaking dangerous, and we’d better nuke the Sundarbans to save us from the man-eating tigers, flying snakes, and bloodthirsty flamingos. The movie’s theme is so hilariously stupid that it can’t even be called irresponsible. The key to enjoying Roar — which I certainly did — is not to take it remotely seriously.
Knowing the titles slated for release, I would’ve bet my house that there would be no new Hindi movies opening in the Chicago area on October 31, 2014. Instead we get two new releases, one of which looks bad in a bad way, and another that looks bad in a good way. Super Nani is the bad in a bad way one. I can’t take the ridiculous old lady makeup on 60-year-old Rekha.