Jazbaa turned in a disappointing opening weekend in North America. During the weekend of October 9-11, 2015, Jazbaa earned $233,186 from 132 theaters ($1,767 average).
Jazbaa‘s performance helps define a kind of Bollywood dead zone at the North American box office, in which movies opening in the 120-140 theater range consistently under-perform. In addition to Jazbaa, three other films have opened in this same range, and all have posted disappointing opening weekend per-theater averages: Tevar (125 theaters/$1,007 average), Shamitabh (137 theaters/$1,573 average), and Katti Batti (127 theaters/$1,507 average). Perhaps the lesson for distributors is that, if you aren’t confident that a given movie could carry 150 theaters, better to limit its release to around 100 theaters. All the better for avoiding the appearance of a flop.
Singh Is Bliing finished the weekend in second place among the four Hindi films playing in North America. It added another $173,329 from 108 theaters ($1,605 average) to bring its two-week total to $808,310.
Talvar held up very well, losing only 37% percent of its opening weekend business (compared to Singh Is Bliing‘s 64% drop). Talvar earned $83,211 from 47 theaters ($1,770 average), bringing its two-week total to $269,253.
Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon closed out its third weekend, adding $6,828 from seven theaters ($975 average) to its total haul of $347,289.
This weekend provided yet more fuel for my obsession with the differences in the American and Canadian markets for Bollywood films (the figures above are for the entire North American territory, but Rentrak breaks the figures down by country). Here’s a comparison of each film’s US and Canadian per-theater averages:
Eros Now recently added several 2015 releases to its streaming lineup, some of which are available for free. (If you need English subtitles, however, you have to upgrade to the $7.99 monthly premium subscription.) Here’s the fare from the current year available on Eros Now:
2015 has been an anemic year for Bollywood releases in the United States, and this weekend is no exception. With nothing new in theaters — and assuming you’ve already been to see Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! — this is a good weekend to catch up on some releases from the first three months of 2015 that you may have missed.
I’ve included links below to services carrying the films in the U.S., how much the movies cost to rent or purchase, and in what format they are available, if specified: high definition (HD) or standard definition (SD). All of the films supposedly have English subtitles.
Dolly Ki Doli Google Play: rental = $3.99; purchase = $4.99 iTunes: SD rental = $3.99; HD rental = $4.99; SD purchase = $13.99; HD purchase = $14.99 YouTube: SD rental = $3.99; HD rental = $4.49; SD purchase = $4.99; HD purchase = $7.99
Tevar Eros Now: available for streaming with a $7.99 premium monthly subscription iTunes: SD rental = $3.99; HD rental = $4.99; SD purchase = $7.99; HD purchase = $14.99
Spuul is streaming a pair of movies from 2015 that released theatrically in India but not in the U.S. Alone and Dirty Politics are both included in the cost of a premium monthly subscription, priced at $4.99.
Here’s how I would organize a weekend movie marathon of the above titles:
Poor, poor Hawaizaada. Family friendly Hindi movies don’t stand much of a chance at the North American box office as it is, but the historical fantasy performed especially poorly here. During its debut weekend — January 30-February 1, 2015 — Hawaizaada earned $16,546 from 66 theaters for a dismal per-screen average of $251.
Hawaizaada‘s failure strikes another blow against leading man Ayushmann Khurrana’s once promising career. His debut film, 2012’s Vicky Donor, was a surprise hit, taking in $169,209 from 50 North American theaters ($3,384 average) in its first weekend, with final earnings of $549,001. Its success owed more to its racy subject matter — sperm donation — than its leading man, however.
Khurrana’s subsequent films didn’t fare nearly as well here. 2013’s Nautanki Saala! opened with $92,851 from 61 theaters ($1,522 average), ultimately earning $127,844. 2014’s Bewakoofiyaan fared even worse, with first-weekend earnings of $67,738 from 66 theaters ($1,026 average), and total earnings of $106,800.
I’ve enjoyed all of Khurrana’s films, so his ability isn’t the problem. The Bollywood fan base in North America is motivated by name recognition, which Khurrana doesn’t yet have. His best bet for earning it would be to pair with another notable male star, maybe for a buddy comedy. Unfortunately, his next two projects — Dum Laga Ke Haisha and Agra Ka Daabra (which is a great title) — feature him as the solo male lead. I don’t see his international box office prospects turning around any time soon.
Other Hindi movies still in theaters include:
Baby: Week 2; $165,732 from 77 theaters ($2,152 average); $694,509 total
Dolly Ki Doli: Week 2; $22,155 from 14 theaters ($1,583 average); $164,186 total
PK: Week 7; $16,627 from 13 theaters ($1,279 average); $10,535,369 total
Tevar: Week 4; $16 from one theater; $166,342 total
Akshay Kumar’s Baby posted a solid opening weekend at the North American box office. Released into 99 theaters, Baby earned $434,952 ($4,393 average) during the weekend of January 23-25, 2015, according to Rentrak data supplied to Bollywood Hungama.
That’s significantly better than the weekend’s other new release, Dolly Ki Doli. The romantic comedy starring Sonam Kapoor took in $112,068 from 72 theaters, a so-so per-screen average of $1,557.
By comparison, PK — now in its sixth weekend in theaters — earned an average of $2,245 per screen ($40,417 from 18 theaters). That brings its total in North America to $10,507,134.
In its third weekend, Tevar took in just $138 from one theater, bringing its total U.S. earnings to $166,236.
Tevar‘s business took a huge hit in its second weekend in U.S. theaters. According to Rentrak figures supplied to Bollywood Hungama, Tevar earned $7,274 from 14 theaters ($520 average) during the weekend of January 16-18, 2015 (not taking into account the Monday Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday). That’s less than 6% of what it earned in its opening weekend, bringing Tevar‘s total earnings to $164,351. It is worth pointing out that, according to Box Office Mojo, Tevar had already earned $214,635 during its first full week in theaters. However, without second weekend figures to augment that data, I’m sticking with the lower Rentrak total.
PK continued its exceptional run, adding another $101,350 from 43 theaters ($2,357 average), bringing its North American total to $10,433,363. That puts it in 24th place all time among foreign-language films released in North America.
Perhaps Gangs of Wasseypur waited too long to make its North American theatrical debut. The first part of the 2012 epic debuted on January 16, 2015, in 13 theaters, earning a measly $5,167 ($397 average). Here’s hoping business picks up during the week before the release of Part II on January 23.
Of the $1,206,346 that the multi-language release I earned in its first weekend in theaters, just $14,382 came from the 47 theaters showing the Hindi-dubbed version ($306 average).
One older Hindi film finally makes its U.S. theatrical debut on Friday. 2012’s 5-hour epic Gangs of Wasseypur is being released in two parts in select theaters across the country, including the South Barrington 30. Part 1 debuts on January 16, and it will be replaced the following Friday, January 23, by Part II.
The Indian movie that is dominating local screenspace in unprecedented fashion is the sci-fi/fantasy adventure romance I, which opens today. Originally shot in Tamil, I is also dubbed into Telugu and Hindi. It’s showing all across the Chicago area, with different theaters carrying different versions (all of them supposedly have English subtitles). Here’s a list based on info available at Fandango:
Telugu: River East 21; Century 12 Evanston; Century 16 Deer Park; MovieMax; Rosemont 18; Cinemark Melrose Park; Century Stratford Square; Marcus Addison Cinema; AMC Showplace Naperville 16 in Naperville; Cinemark at Seven Bridges; Cinemark Louis Joliet Mall
I’m not sure which language version is showing at the Regal Gardens 1-6, but I’m betting Tamil since that’s what’s showing at the Cantera (another Regal theater). Considering that several theaters are showing multiple versions of I, be sure to check the schedule before you head to the theater to make sure you select the correct showtime.
I had a hunch Tevar wasn’t going to light up the box office when only one other person joined my friend, Melanie, and me in the theater at Friday’s first showing. The North American box office figures for January 9-11, 2015, proved my hunch correct.
From 125 theaters in the United States (it didn’t open in Canada, apparently), Tevar earned just $125,908, an average per screen of $1,007. To give that per-screen average context, the median PSA in 2014 was $1,977.
That average looks sadder still when compared to PK‘s performance during the same weekend. In its fourth weekend in U.S. and Canadian theaters, PK earned $244,370 from 115 theaters: a per-screen average of $2,125.
Despite being the first new Hindi movie to release in North America in three weeks, people still skipped Tevar in favor of PK. Wow.
Arjun Kapoor’s lead character seems more like an interruption than a necessary element of Tevar (“Attitude“).
Don’t get me wrong: as the story is constructed, the fate of Sonakshi Sinha’s character, Radhika, depends entirely upon Kapoor’s Pintu. That’s because Radhika is the most embarrassingly helpless character Sinha has played yet, which is saying something. Instead of a hapless plot device, I wish she’d been capable of saving herself — rendering Pintu altogether unnecessary.
Because Tevar is just another formulaic, hero-driven, Bollywood action flick, the movie opens with a lengthy introduction of Pintu. Surprise, surprise: he’s a slacker who just wants to hang out with his buddies, who repeatedly tell him how cool he is. As is typical in such films, his only flaw is a lack of a girlfriend. Not that he couldn’t get one if he wanted one. He just doesn’t want some chick to cut into his bro time.
Once Pintu’s intro is over, we get to the movie that I really wanted to see. Manoj Bajpayee plays Gajendar, a goon who does the dirty work for his older brother, a politician played by Rajesh Sharma. Gajendar falls madly in love with Radhika when he sees her dance in a concert.
On the advice of his sidekick, Kakdi (Subrat Dutta), Gajendar tries to impress the much younger Radhika, doffing his sweater vest in favor of jeans and a motorcycle jacket. The attempt fails. Gajendar is further humiliated by Radhika’s reporter brother, who threatens to take down both Gajendar and his brother if he contacts Radhika again.
Here’s what I wanted from Tevar: Gajendar tries to pretend he’s something he’s not in order to win Radhika. When that doesn’t work, he resorts to his old, violent ways. Radhika has to figure out how to stop Gajendar and save her family. Why shouldn’t the heroine be the one with “attitude” for a change?
What I got was Radhika waiting helplessly for someone to rescue her. Pintu just happens to get there first. Whenever Radhika takes control of her own destiny, she does something idiotic like leave her hiding place to check on the well-being of Pintu, who is essentially invincible.
That invincibility neuters all the fight sequences. Stuff breaks and people go flying, but the scenes lack gravity and danger. The epic eye roll Gajendar gives when Pintu rises from what should’ve been a mortal blow is spot on.
Pintu’s invincibility is such a powerful aphrodisiac for Radhika that’s she’s willing to abandon the complicated plan to get her to safety just to hear Pintu say, “I love you.” It’s stupid and insulting.
Sinha’s cringe-inducing performance aside, the acting in Tevar is pretty good. Kapoor is charming when the script permits him to be. Bajpayee is one of Bollywood’s go-to villains for a reason. It’s hard to take your eyes off of him.
Yet Dutta managed to steal my attention from Bajpayee on a number of occasions, not with anything flashy, but by doing little things to make Kakdi seem like a real person, not just an automaton who performs only when he’s the focus of a scene. While Gajendar is in the foreground, staring transfixed by Radhika’s dancing, Kakdi is in the background ushering people to their seats and clapping along with the music.
Dutta shows some real menace in spots, too, as when Kakdi strolls in slow motion toward Pintu, flanked by armed guards. Maybe there’s room for another go-to villain in town.
Ultimately, Tevar sublimates its unique elements in order to give us more of the same. Putting a different actor in the role of morally righteous superman doesn’t change anything.