YRF’s catalog streams on Amazon Prime in the United States, so the same should hold true for these releases. What will be interesting is how long of an exclusivity window YRF gives to theaters. Six weeks to two months was the standard pre-pandemic, but I won’t be surprised if the window is flexible based on box office returns, if not shortened outright. Keep in mind that, even if theaters are allowed to operate at 100% capacity in India, not all states are currently doing so. US theaters have occupancy limits (where they are operating at all), and other countries may have similar restrictions.
A smaller movie like Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar would be an interesting test case for a day-and-date digital rental via Amazon, even if only outside India. (I’m not holding out hope that’ll happen — just throwing that wish out into the world.) With so many people unable or unwilling to watch films in theaters, there is a need to make new titles available as widely as possible before people turn to pirated copies.
Akshay Kumar’s Laxmmi Bomb was rumored to debut on Hotstar on September 9, but it’s undergoing re-shoots, so no release is imminent. Instead, Hotstar will launch a second season of its original series Hostages on September 9.
In other news, Yash Raj Films plans to launch its own streaming service. This could potentially lead to YRF titles being removed from Amazon Prime, which currently holds the streaming rights to the studio’s catalog. The news report is light on details, so we’ll have to wait and see how YRF justifies asking consumers to subscribe to yet another streaming service.
Sixteen Indian movies are set to expire from Netflix on October 1 — mostly Malayalam titles, but the service’s lone Manipuri film, Loktak Lairembee, is on its way out as well. The full list of expiring titles is available here.
The Yash Raj Films exodus from Prime is underway, with ten titles leaving on September 29 and dozens more following on September 30. Click here, then scroll down to the “Expiring Soon” section for the full list of movies on the way out.
It’s last call for movies from the Yash Raj Films catalog at Amazon Prime. YRF is taking its library to Hotstar, and Prime has started posting expiration dates for the 60+ films on the way out. Most titles — including Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge — will be gone in the next two weeks. The most recent releases will be the last to go, with no departure dates announced for films like Thugs of Hindostan and Sui Dhaaga: Made In India. I’ll update this post when their dates are announced. Here are the expiration dates we know so far:
Kabir Singh comes to Netflix in India on September 19, but I haven’t seen confirmation of its US availability yet, so stay tuned. In other Netflix news, Karan Johar signed a multi-year contract to produce fiction and non-fiction content exclusively for the streaming service.
The recent release of Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! inspired me to take a look at the US box office history for all of the Yash Raj Films releases from the past decade. I based my analysis on data provided by Box Office Mojo and Bollywood Hungama (which in turn uses information from Rentrak).
Looking at the total grosses of all films, it looks like there’s a slight trend upward in total box office, over time. (The orange line represents a simple linear regression of all data.)
You might notice that one film did disproportionately well in late 2013. That’s Dhoom 3, which raked in about $8M. Remove this outlier from the equation, and the other YRF releases are actually on a gentle decline in total box office take.
Despite the stagnancy of total box office dollars, YRF’s widest releases are being shown in more US theaters than ever.
A flat box office and more theaters means that opening weekend averages per screen are also trending downward, even when including Dhoom 3 in the calculations. Blockbusters have been immune to the trend, but the underperformers are doing worse than ever. The last four Yash Raj movies released in 2014 (Bewakoofiyaan, Mardaani, Daawat-e-Ishq, and Kill Dil) each came in at under $2,000 per screen.
Taking into account that average ticket prices have also climbed almost $2 (from $6.41 in 2005 to $8.17 in 2014, according to Box Office Mojo), this lack of growth in box office also means that fewer tickets are being sold for each Yash Raj Films release, on average.
The good news for YRF is that Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! bucked recent trends, averaging about $4,000 per screen in US theaters in its opening weekend. That puts it on par with films from the studio’s most reliable period, 2007-08.
For the remainder of 2015, Yash Raj Films has only one film officially planned for release: Fan, starring Shahrukh Khan. Yet Fan‘s release date has been changed multiple times, and it’s not currently listed on Bollywood Hungama’s release calendar. The surprise success of the romantic comedy Dum Laga Ke Haisha in India prompted Yash Raj Films to create an international trailer for the movie, renaming it My Big Fat Bride. There’s a chance that it could open in US while Fan is completed — though its star, Ayushmann Khurrana, isn’t a guaranteed money maker like Shahrukh Khan.
Even if Yash Raj Films doesn’t release another movie in 2015, Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! has nudged the studio’s fortunes in the US back in the right direction.
Author’s note: My thanks to Box Office Mojo, Bollywood Hungama, and Rentrak for the raw information. Note: there’s no reliable box office data for a pair of 2010 releases — Badmaash Company and Pyaar Impossible — so I couldn’t take them into account in this analysis.
I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix to reflect one change. After just five days, Daawat-e-Ishq has disappeared from the streaming service. The same thing happened to Mardaani and Bewakoofiyaan, two other movies produced by Yash Raj Films. It took a few months for Bewakoofiyaan to return for its official run on the Netflix, so I expect it will be a while before we see Mardaani or Daawat-e-Ishq on the service again.
This serves as a warning that, whenever YRF’s most recent theatrical release, Kill Dil, hits Netflix, you’d better watch it right away.
Update: Mike of The Arts blog may have solved the mystery: no English subtitles. At least that was his experience watching Daawat-e-Ishq on Netflix the other day. It’s unknown (at least to me) if the YouTube videos have English subtitles, so rent with caution if you don’t speak Hindi.
Update 2: Thanks again to Mike for noticing that Daawat-e-Ishq is back on Netflix again, now with subtitles. Still not sure what happened to Mardaani, though.
This has been a lousy year for Yash Raj Films. Hopes were undoubtedly high after the titanic success of Dhoom 3 at the end of 2013, but none of the five films released by the company in 2014 has made much of a blip on the radar in North America.
Kill Dil‘s performance from November 14-16, 2014, cements that trend. During its opening weekend in the United States and Canada, Kill Dil earned $172,001 from 87 theaters, a per-screen average of $1,977.
To put this performance in context, the median number of opening weekend theaters for Hindi films in North America this year is 70, and the median per-screen average earnings are $2,022. All but one of the films released by Yash Raj Films this year opened in more theaters than the median (Bewakoofiyaan didn’t), but only one earned more than the median per-screen average (Gunday). Here’s how each Yash Raj film performed in its opening weekend in the U.S. and Canada this year:
Gunday: $548,350 from 150 theaters; $3,656 average
Bewakoofiyaan: $67,738 from 66 theaters; $1,026 average
Mardaani: $168,997 from 86 theaters; $1,965 average
Kill Dil: $172,001 from 87 theaters; $1,977 average
While none of these performances — except for Bewakoofiyaan — is disastrous, the studio and theaters surely expected more. Even Gunday was likely expected to earn $1 million (it fell short with $887,675 total). The name Yash Raj carries enough clout to command a significant number of screens, but the return on those screens should be higher given the studio’s profile and the emerging young stars and veteran talent the company casts.
Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters:
Happy New Year: Week 4; $64,792 from 45 theaters; $1,440 average; $3,702,530 total
Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain: Week 2; $5,794 from two theaters; $2,897 average; $12,110 total
The Shaukeens: Week 2; $735 from six theaters; $123 average; $75,546 total
In the battle of the romantic comedies, Khoobsurat emerged the clear victor over Daawat-e-Ishq. During the weekend of September 19-21, 2014, Disney/UTV’s Khoobsurat earned $332,486 from 69 theaters in North America. It averaged an impressive $4,819 per screen.
By contrast, Yash Raj Films’ Daawat-e-Ishq earned $204,950 from 113 theaters for a per-screen average of $1,814.
2014 has been a dud of a year for Yash Raj Films in North America. Following the release of 2013’s massively successful Dhoom 3 — which earned $8,090,250 in North America — all of the Hindi films YRF has released since have looked comparatively anemic:
Gunday: $887,675 total gross; widest release: 150 theaters
Mardaani: $393,619 total gross; widest release: 86 theaters
Given that Daawat-e-Ishq opened in 113 theaters in the United States and Canada, YRF clearly expected it to perform far better than it did. YRF still has Kill Dil to release in November, but it looks too wacky to attract a wide audience. YRF’s other 2014 release —Titli — will likely be relegated to the festival circuit in North America (including three showings at the Chicago International Film Festival in October).
Other Hindi movies still in U.S. and Canadian theaters:
Finding Fanny: Week 2; $124,165 from 114 theaters; $1,089 average; $739,370 total
Mary Kom: Week 3; $12,210 from 17 theaters; $718 average; $629,322 total
The Lunchbox: Week 30; $772 from two theaters; $336 average; $4,046,834 total
Mardaani: Week 5; $59 from one theater; $393,619 total