Everyone is pretty much in agreement that the big story of the global box office this weekend is that Punjabi films are breaking records. But the flipside of that story is of course that Hindi films are doing TERRIBLE.
India figures aren’t out yet in general, but it has already been reported that Neerja is holding fairly steady. Not great, but a solid crore a day, which is amazing for less than 700 theaters, a female lead film, in the 4th weekend. Jai Gangaajal made around 4 crore, which is decent for a second weekend (depending on how many screens it is split between, that isn’t clear yet), and Teraa Suroor did similarly decent.
But are any of these movies really going to put up a challenge overseas? Neerja in its first and second weekend, certainly, but not now, in its 4th. Jai Gangaajal did pretty poorly in its first, and is doing slightly worse this weekend, so there isn’t a lot of excitement there. And Teraa Suroor will appeal to a very specific group (rabid Himesh Reshammiya fans), and no one else.
I am sure the Punjabi films are excellent, and deserve their success, but there should probably be a little of the blame/credit for their success put on the Hindi industry, which failed to field a single real contender this weekend.
But, enough about that, let’s look at the numbers! Love Punjab and Ardaas opened on 36 and 30 screens respectively in the US. They made $174,468 and $141,493. If you remember, my usually rule of thumb is that $2,000 per screen is acceptable, anything above that is a good opening, and anything about $4,000 per screen is a really really good opening. They are at around $4,800 and $4,700 each. So, not crazy good Neerja/3 Idiots territory, but definitely notable.
It’s not just a rush away from Hindi, though, because the newest Tamil release Kadhalum Kadandhu Pogum got even more screens, 50, and did not do as well. Although still better than Neerja in week 4 on 38 screens, and Jai Gangaajal in week 2 on 26. So, it’s a combination of there being Hindi options that are either unappealing or old, and regional options that are both fresh and interesting. By the way, for my Malayalis, Action Hero Biju is still running on 10 screens in week 6.
The reason this is getting so much press is because, unlike those flukey one offs where all the Punjabis in Canada or all the Tamilians in Malaysia drive a regional to the top, this is an across the board global win for the Regionals. In America, Neerja trails both the Punjabi films and the Tamilian, while Jai Gangaajal comes after Neerja and a Telegu film (Kalyana Vaibhogame).
In Canada, Neerja comes in second to the Punjabi film (but that’s pretty common for Canada, just like Telegu or Tamil films often win the weekend in America). The real story is in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. In the UK, Jai Gangaajal dropped 2/3rds of its business in one week, and over half its screens. Neerja dropped half its business and a 3rd of its screens. And everything they left open went rushing towards the regional releases. The two Punjabi films and the Tamil all beat them, dropping Neerja to 4 and Jai Gangaajal to 5. In New Zealand, Neerja and Jai Gangaajal only lost one screen each, but they had a steep drop in tickets, and they lost 4 screens each in Australia and had an even worse drop at the box office (Jai Gangaajal went from $29,836 to $5,079 and Neerja went from $23,516 to $6,087). And what’s the end result of all this? The top opening weekend numbers for both Austrlia and New Zealand in 2016 now go:
- Love Punjab