The big question, for me, was how Fan would do up against Theri. This has been a year of regional wins, and Fan is in an odd place in terms of Hindi versus Regional. Usually, the popularity of the Khans is enough to carry a film through out India and the diaspora. But on the other hand, Fan is songless, romance-less, and has an international flavor (the second half is almost entirely in London and Dubrovnik), all of which make it feel less “Indian”. And it is that “Indian” flavor that is driving the diaspora more and more in a regional direction. So, how did it do against Theri, the big regional release of the week?
In America, Fan was the 12th biggest film of the weekend over all, and the top of the Indian list. It opened on 282 screens, even more than Dilwale (268, although remember it was competing with Bajirao). But, it only made $3,959 per screen. Ouch! That is half as much as Neerja made opening weekend per screen.
But then Theri made $2662 per screen, which is also a bit of an “Ouch!” Especially considering the inflated ticket prices for regional releases on opening weekend, which means that $2662 reflects a much smaller number of actual tickets sold than the same figure would for a Hindi or American film. So, in America at least, there was a clear win for the Shahrukh film over the regional.
Anything over $2,000 respectable, so I’m not saying either of them are flops, but they both had very big expectations coming in and they have not lived up to them. And, to me, it looks like it was simply a matter of swamping the market. 282 screens is in the very top range of Hindi film openings for America. And 131 is pretty high for a regional film. And speaking just for my market, I was going to see Fan no matter what, and if it had only been playing at the theater 20 minutes away instead of the one 10 minutes away, I still would have seen it. I think, at this point, adding screens isn’t adding audience, it’s just spreading out the same audience you would have had anyway.
Meanwhile, in Canada, Fan opened on only 26 screens and Theri opened on only 19. This is only slightly more than, for instance, Kapoor and Sons and Love Punjab. And the per screen numbers are significantly better, $8544 per screen for Fan and $9445 for Theri. Canada numbers are always higher than American anyway, because their ticket prices are higher, but both Fan and Theri performed way above average, Theri way way way above average! Fan still beat it easily in terms of total take, but Theri as you can see beat it at per screen. Although, I would guess they sold the same number of tickets per screen, Theri was just benefiting from the inflated opening night prices. But still, for a regional film clashing with a Khan release, Theri definitely proved that the Canadian audience at least is no longer blindly going to whatever Hindi film comes out without considering their regional options. And that there is enough of an audience for both regional and Hindi releases.
If I were a distributor or a studio exec, I would look at these figures and start lowering my screen counts for my next big release. At least, in America. I might up them a little for Canada. Oh, and the UAE. No screen counts available there, but soooooooooo much money! Fan released with no competition and just raked in the money. More distributors really need to figure out how to break into that market. If America is reaching the tipping point of being over-exploited by both Hindi and regional industries, the middle east is still being under-exploited.
Fan did really well in Germany too. No competition, released on 56 screens, and made 88,669 Euros. Not as well as Dilwale, however. That released on 4 fewer screens and made 142, 539 opening weekend. So Germany is either being over-exploited too, or is just nutso crazy for SRKajol and any non-SRKajol film is not going to do as well. Probably a little from column A, a little from column B.
Meanwhile, Australia and New Zealand continue to be surprising this year. In Australia, Theri won the weekend, making slightly more than Fan on half as many screens. The last few big hits in Australia have all been Punjabi, now a Tamil film is sweeping the box office. So I guess it’s not that they like one particular region better than Hindi (like Canada preferring Punjabi or Malaysia preferring Tamil), but that they just really do not like the current Hindi offerings. Same in New Zealand, Theri only managed to get 2 screens to Fan‘s 20, but its per screen take was almost twice as much, 9403.5 versus 5405.3.
Oh, and Malaysia loved Theri. No surprise there, they’ve been going for the Tamil films all year, and this is the biggest release so far (right?). But the contrast between Theri and Fan there is really remarkable. Theri was on 32 screens, Fan was on 31, and Theri made 9 TIMES AS MUCH!!! So, the Theri distributors knew they had lightening in a bottle and pushed for as many screens as possible, and the Fan distributors made a huge huge miss-step if they thought anyone in Malaysia was going to see their movie this weekend.