Global figures are out! Dhoni did well, but it seems to be driven more by Cricket interest than by Sushant Singh Rajput interest.
Dhoni is the 4th highest opening weekend opener overseas in 2016, after Sultan, Fan, and Housefull 3. But, is that merit or release tomfoolery? (as always, figures from rentrak by way of Bollywoodhungama)
Dhoni opened on a whoping 252 screens in America. It made $983,393 in one weekend. But that means, only $3,902 per screen. Which is not that impressive. $4,000 is average for a big movies opening weekend, $5,000 is impressive, $7,000 is jaw dropping. $3,902 is right at that edge of “open on 20 fewer screens, make the same amount of money.” Clearly people were interested in the film and wanted to see it, just not quite as many people as expected. And it is also right at that edge of “open on 50 fewer screens, don’t break any records because no one cares enough to drive out of their way to see it”. It’s a box office driven by release strategy, not film quality or popularity.
Meanwhile, Pink is still on 56 screens in America and is doing about $2,000 per screen, which is totally respectable for week 3. And Nikka Zailder, which is a Punjabi movie I think? Anyway, it’s doing better than Dhoni per screen, slightly over $4,000 on 28 screens. See, those producers knew EXACTLY how many screens to release on!
I’m much more impressed with Dhoni in Canada. $4,333 per screen on 28 screens, actually beating a Punjabi release! Okay, a Punjabi release in week 3 (Nikka Zailder didn’t open there), but still! Impressive!
Meanwhile, in the UK, Dhoni is doing very very well. As I always say, the UK is the closest comparison to the Indian box office, and in this case that means it is slightly more popular there than in the US. I also wonder if it’s a Cricket thing? Dhoni is doing super good in Australia and New Zealand as well, and also Germany. Whereas it’s just doing okay good in Canada and America.
Really, what all these numbers are telling me is that there is value in a story-driven film. People are showing up because they want to see Dhoni’s story, not because the songs are hits or the hero is a big name. The big question is, will that drive repeat viewers? Now that they’ve seen the story, will people be done with it? Traditionally it is the spectacle that drives repeat viewers for Indian films, that one moment you just want to live over and over again, whether it is an epic fight scene or a catchy song or a dreamy line from the hero. Dhoni is a little weak on spectacle, except for the big game moments, and in that case couldn’t you just watch old tapes of the same thing in real life?
(I’m not Indian, or a Cricket fan, and these videos still get me! I would much rather watch this over and over again, than the movie recreation)