I still haven’t seen Deadpool, because I am swamped by Malayalam films. I wasn’t sure if I ever would bother with it, at least before it hit DVD. But then moviemavengal told me it uses an Indian song in the opening scene, and I was all in!
That also made me check out how it is doing in the Indian box office, just in case that Indian scored opening was part of a move on the Indian market.
The headline of this article touts that Deadpool is “winning”, that it beat top pick Fitoor last weekend. Which makes it sound like Hollywood is finally breaking into the unbreakable Indian box office. But if you look a little closer, eh, not so much.
Deadpool made 14.25 crore to 14.11 crore for Fitoor. So it JUST beat it. But more importantly, they were in a race for second place. First place is comfortably held by Sanam Re at 17.05 crore.
Music is the key here. Music is still the heart and soul of Indian film. Deadpool made 14.25 crore on only 800 screens, handily beating the Indian per-screen average of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And it did it by putting in just a few seconds of a Mukesh singing “Mere Joota Hai Japani”. Well, that, and opening on a weekend when there was nothing else worthwhile playing, and filmgoers are traditionally looking for something a little less family friendly (a Valentine’s Day crowd is very different from a Christmas one. No school holiday, for one thing).
Sanam Re is rising on its music as well. Its stars are more or less unknown, it’s only the second film for its director, but it has a phenomenal soundtrack that has been pumped out through every T-Series platform for weeks. The music drew people in, at least for the first weekend.
It remains to be seen what will happen next weekend. Cricket season is coming down on us soon, World Cup starts on the 8th of March, followed immediately by IPL. Which means, the last chance to release your big films and count on a full house is in the next few weeks, so there is a lot of competition.
Neerja and Tere Bin Laden 2 both come out next weekend. Neerja already has phenomenal buzz, and is strongly in the mold of Airlift (which was the last big hit of the year). Tere Bin Laden 2 is a bit of an unknown quantity, but so was Tere Bin Laden 1, and that turned into a huge sleeper hit. Plus, unlike Fitoor vs. Sanam Re, they are films that are going after distinctly different audiences, and could conceivably both flourish. The real question is, will Deadpool or Sanam Re be able to hold onto any screens or audiences once Neerja and Tere Bin come out? Deadpool has better buzz and word of mouth, but its audience has a lot of overlap with both films (dark comedy with Tere Bin, and high quality intelligent filmmaking with Neerja). Sanam Re may end up winning again by default, just because it is the only pure lighthearted romance option left. Of course, Fitoor will probably still be in theaters also, UTV is good about getting guaranteed screens for at least 2 weeks, but I don’t think anyone will be seeing it.
(In case you were wondering, yes every Indian news outlet reported the Shree 420 quote in Deadpool, so audiences definitely knew about it in advance. As they do every time there is an Indian music quote in an American production, here is a run down of every time it has happened before.)
Deadpool is a hard ‘R’ so it would be going after a very different audience than the Hindi films. Dopinder, the Indian cabbie appears in two scenes in Deadpool. In the second scene there is a more modern Hindi song playing, but I couldn’t quite catch what it is as it was so quick. The Shree 420 music plays for quite a bit longer.
Okay, now I have to see it, because I MUST find out what that other song is! It looks like no one else can identify it either, because all the internet stuff I found just mentions Shree 420.
And thanks again for the tip!