I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix because I found another batch of titles set to expire on January 1, 2021. Including the 48 expiring films I wrote about in my December 24 Streaming Video News, that brings the total number of Hindi movies poised to leave the service in the next week to 53. That’s 10% of Netflix’s Hindi film catalog!
Pink got off to a terrific start at the North American box office. During the weekend of September 16-18, 2016, it earned $371,043 from 71 theaters ($5,226 average). That’s the seventh best opening weekend average of the year, from a film that ranked 24th out of 37 films in terms of opening weekend theater count.
Pink is star Amitabh Bachchan’s third release of the year, with each film opening in fewer theaters than the one before it. Wazir released into 127 theaters here in January, earning $575,908 in its opening weekend. In June, Te3n earned $250,677 from the 116 theaters it opened in. Releasing Pink in just 71 theaters seems like an overreaction to Te3n‘s slight underperformance. Bachchan is still enough of a draw here that his movies should open in at least 90 theaters.
Baar Baar Dekho held over reasonably well in its second weekend, losing about 77% of its opening weekend business (which isn’t as dramatic as it might seem). The time travel romance earned $141,833 from 123 theaters ($1,153 average), bringing its total earnings to $900,159.
Freaky Ali faced a more precipitous second-weekend drop, with business falling by about 84%. It took in $6,621 from fourteen theaters ($414 average) to bring its total to $64,254. As I noted last week, that’s a very respectable total for a movie that opened in just 42 theaters.
In its sixth weekend, Rustom earned $6,499 from seven theaters ($928 average), bringing its total to $1,909,782.
Naam Hai Akira closed out its third weekend with $2,732 from two theaters ($1,366 average). Its North American total earnings stand at $217,515.
Te3n‘s North American debut fell a little short of expectations. During the weekend of June 10-12, 2016, the Amitabh Bachchan thriller earned $250,677 from 116 theaters ($2,161 average). It released into the seventh largest number of theaters for the year, but its opening weekend total was only ninth best, and its opening weekend average just eleventh best. Distributor Reliance Films was probably hoping for numbers closer to what Bachchan earned in January with another thriller, Wazir, which opened with $575,908 from 127 theaters ($4,535 average).
Housefull 3 held over well in its second weekend of release. Its business fell by about two-thirds, which is actually good for this year. A movie only has to retain 20% of its opening weekend business to place in the top half of Bollywood films released in North America in 2016. The comedy added another $224,510 from 112 theaters ($2,005 average) to bring its total to $1,139,998. Thus far, Housefull 3 is performing on par with its predecessors.
I’ve written before about how — though the United States and Canada are considered one North American territory for box office reporting purposes — the countries have different taste in Bollywood films, and this weekend provided the best evidence of that yet. Canadians ignored the new release Te3n and turned out for two-week-old Housefull 3 at a margin of nearly two-to-one. Here’s the subset of Canadian data broken out from the totals above:
Housefull 3: $51,837 from fourteen theaters ($3,703 average)
Te3n: $22,088 from twelve theaters ($1,841 average)
Damn, Canadians love their broad comedies almost as much as they love their action movies! In contrast, Te3n averaged $2,198 per screen in the US, and Housefull 3 averaged $1,762.
Sarbjit played for a fourth weekend in one theater, earning $386 to bring its total to $244,274.
Fitoor debuted to good-not-great numbers in the United States and Canada. During the weekend of February 12-14, 2016, the romance earned $339,319 from 163 theaters, a per-screen average of $2,082. Two factors make Fitoor‘s debut underwhelming. First, the movie opened in the most theaters of any Hindi film released in North America so far this year, but it earned substantially less in its opening weekend than either Airlift ($815,933 from 98 theaters) or Wazir ($575,908 from 127 theaters) did in their opening weekends.
Second, Monday’s Presidents’ Day holiday should have boosted Sunday returns significantly, since many people had the following day off of work. Even with the holiday’s help, Fitoor still finished fourth for the year in 3-day opening weekend per-screen average behind Airlift ($8,326), Wazir ($4,535), and Ghayal Once Again ($2,167), according to Bollywood Hungama. Box Office Mojo lists Fitoor‘s 4-day weekend total as $392,670 from 147 theaters ($2,671 average).
Other Hindi movies showing in North American theaters:
Airlift: Week 4; $71,668 from 35 theaters; $2,048 average; $1,804,937 total
Ghayal Once Again: Week 2; $38,856 from 34 theaters; $1,143 average; $270,418 total
Bajirao Mastani: Week 9; $1,987 from two theaters; $994 average; $6,561,698 total
Ghayal Once Again opened to big numbers in North America, while Sanam Teri Kasam flopped hard. During the weekend of February 5-7, 2016, Ghayal Once Again earned $173,395 from 80 theaters ($2,167 average). This impressive debut for the Sunny Deol sequel was due primarily to his devoted Canadian fans. 43% of the movie’s total opening weekend gross came from 13 theaters in Canada, which accounted for just 16% of the total number of theaters in North America. The per-screen average for those Canadian theaters was $5,702, compared to $1,482 per screen in the United States.
Sanam Teri Kasam had the worst opening weekend of 2016 so far, which is saying something. It earned just $21,660 from 37 theaters, for a pathetic average of just $585. The recent anemic earnings of Sanam Teri Kasam, Mastizaade, and Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 make the case for same-day digital rental in North America, rather than theatrical releases for films that won’t bring people to the cinema. A few films tried same-day rental back in 2010 before the test was largely abandoned, but I’d love to see Eros Now revisit it.
Bollywood Hungama — which gets its information from Rentrak — didn’t post weekend earnings for Airlift, which still has a large presence in North American theaters.
Other Hindi movies still showing in North American theaters:
Bajirao Mastani: Week 8; $4,347 from four theaters; $1,087 average; $6,558,711 total
Saala Khadoos: Week 2; $3,831 from eight theaters; $479 average; $88,381 total
Mastizaade: Week 2; $2,233 from two theaters; $1,117 average; $43,403 total
Wazir: Week 5; $818 from three theaters; $273 average; $1,112,655 total
Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3: Week 3; $190 from one theater; $31,914 total
January 29-31, 2016, was an awful weekend for new Bollywood movies in North America. Let’s look first at the better of the two new releases. According to Rentrak data supplied to Bollywood Hungama, Saala Khadoos earned $62,920 from 58 theaters ($1,085 average). Those figures are slightly lower than those reported by Box Office Mojo — $76,931 from 70 theaters; $1,099 average. Things look rosier when factoring in collections from the Tamil version of the film, Irudhi Suttru: $83,994 from 35 theaters ($2,399 average).
The weekend’s other new release — Mastizaade — got trounced. It earned just $28,529 from 46 theaters for a per-screen average of $620. It performed so poorly that, as of Tuesday, my local theater had cut back from four showings per day to just one. Its average is even worse than Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3‘s first-weekend average of $716. For a look into Mastizaade‘s bleak future, note that KKHH3 took in just $913 from eight theaters in its second weekend ($114 average), bringing its total to $31,444.
The lesson to be learned here is: don’t open Hindi sex comedies in North America. There is no demographic here yearning for sex comedies with no sex, especially not when there are racier Hollywood alternatives in theaters and a world of raunchy stuff available to anyone with an internet connection.
There’s possibly another lesson to be learned from Saala Khadoos. Sports movies are among the most easily accessible across cultures thanks to their formulaic nature and the fact that people everywhere share a love for sport, so why not adapt the advertising in the hopes of nabbing people outside of the usual target audience?
Look at the poster for Saala Khadoos. There’s nothing on the poster to indicate that it’s about boxing, and the title isn’t informative even if you know Hindi. Why not follow the route of festivals films and release it internationally with an evocative English title — Fighting Spirit or something like that — and then have R. Madhavan squaring off with Ritika Singh on the poster. As it stands, the poster only appeals to people who are already Madhavan fans.
In contrast, check out the poster for Neerja. It’s clearly a hijacking thriller set on a plane, and the woman with the gun pointed at her is dressed as a flight attendant. The text at the top reads “Fear gave her courage,” so we know that she must be the hero. The poster is geared toward people who haven’t already heard of the film, hoping to entice them to buy a theater ticket or add the movie to their Netflix queue. Sonam Kapoor fans are going to buy a ticket no matter what, so there’s no need to cater to them.
As for other Hindi movies still showing in North America, Airlift won the weekend, adding another $482,307 from 101 theaters ($4,775 average) to bring its two-week total to $1,534,443. Those figures may be on the low side since Rentrak didn’t report separate second-weekend earnings from Canada.
Wazir added another $7,513 from 11 theaters ($683 average) to bring its four-week total to $1,109,233. Bajirao Mastani closed out its seventh weekend with $6,966 from six theaters ($1,161 average). Its total stands at $6,551,448.
The weekend’s other new release is the sex comedy Mastizaade, starring Sunny Leone, Vir Das, and Tusshar Kapoor. Last weekend saw the release of another sex comedy starring Tusshar Kapoor, and that movie totally flopped in the US. The timing of this could not be worse, regardless of whether Mastizaade is any good (which seems unlikely).
Mastizaade opens on Friday at the South Barrington 30, Cantera 17, and AMC River East 21 in Chicago. It has a listed runtime of 1 hr. 48 min.
A major snowstorm on the east coast of the United States didn’t deter Bollywood fans from heading to the theater during the weekend of January 22-24, 2016. Airlift posted massive opening weekend returns of $815,933 from 98 theaters. That makes for a per-screen average of $8,326, the best of any film that played in North America over the weekend.
The weekend’s other new release, Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3, didn’t fare as well. It earned just $22,204 from 31 theaters in the US and Canada, for a paltry $716 average per screen.
Also over the weekend, Wazir crossed the $1 million mark in North America. In its third weekend of release, it earned another $43,048 from 35 theaters ($1,230 average), bringing its total to $1,086,910. With Airlift due to cross the million dollar mark momentarily, and with the Telugu film Nannaku Prematho‘s two-week total standing at $1,920,343, the new year is off to a spectacular start for Indian movies in North America.
Other Hindi films still in theaters:
Bajirao Mastani: Week 6; $26,906 from 16 theaters; $1,682 average; $6,530,042 total
Dilwale: Week 6; $243 from one theater; $4,865,684 total