Global figures are out for Dear Zindagi! Yaaaay! And it did best in North America! Which has no significance whatsoever because North America had an extra 2 days in the weekend! And on the other hand, had a lot of competition here! But being a hit in Australia, now THAT is significant! (as always, the figures come from Rentracks courtesy of Bollywoodhungama)
I’m going to deal with the meaningless USA figures first. First, it opened on 154 screens, which is about half as many screens as, for instance, ADHM. This could be because there was less faith in the film on the part of the distributors, but it could also be because it opened on a major holiday weekend here.
A little USA film industry scheduling background is relevant here. In America, Thanksgiving and Christmas are big times for two completely different kinds of releases. Family films, like Fantastic Beasts, that the whole family can see together. And also Award bait films, like Bleed for This, because the cut off for consideration for Awards is January 1st and common wisdom is that the closest to the cut off that you release the film, the easier it is for the selectors to remember it.
Going back to Dear Zindagi and Indian films in general, in the theaters around me they tend to either show up in the artsy unusual theaters (the same places that give over one screen to broadcasting a live opera performance, for instance), or in the big multiplexes in the middle of the suburbs where there are a lot of Desi families. But this weekend, every family (even Desis) has plenty of options outside of Indian film, and the theaters know it. And the artsier theaters have plenty of artsy options for their screens too. So it’s kind of a bad weekend for an Indian release to find a home in America. Thus, only 154 screens for a Shahrukh release.
But it is still a 4 day weekend! 5 day even, if you count Wednesday when DZ officially released and about half the offices and schools are closed. And so, lots and lots of money was made. And thus, $5,342 per screen in America. Which is very very good. Not record breaking PK level good, but well above the average $4,000 per screen for a Khan release.
Now, I want to go back for a second to Karan’s interview where he broke down all the global box office trends:
You know, I don’t know why my films do well there. If you go to the UK, you’ll find the Asian community is far more rooted in tradition and culture than some of us in urban India. Let me get mildly technical here. There is a certain mapping that can be done. The UAE and Dubai behave like Bombay. The UK behaves like Gurgaon, Delhi and Punjab. They go for colour, glamour, music, song, dance. The USA behaves like Mysore. So the films that perform exceedingly well there are the ones that are more intelligent, like Piku, Pink, Neerja, Kapoor & Sons. The template for “evolved” Hindi cinema will work very well in North America. So you lump everyone under “NRI,” but there are differences. Ae Dil… is doing exceedingly well in the UK because it’s also doing very well in Delhi/Gurgaon. It’s doing very well in the USA because it’s also doing very well in Mysore. It’s doing well in the Bombay/Maharashtra belt, but nothing path-breaking. So that’s what it’s like in the UAE. Action, on the other hand, will do very well in the UAE but nobody in the UK will go to watch it. So I cannot design a movie for all this. I can only make the movie I want, and hope that the audiences – cumulatively – give us love.
So, DZ definitely fits in the Piku, Pink, Neerja mold. Doing very well in the US, despite a lack of screens and audience competition this weekend. NOT doing well in the UK. Or at least, not as well, about $2,500 per screen. The UK figures are always low per screen (because their tickets are cheap cheap cheap), so $2,500 isn’t the embarrassment it would be in America, but it’s still not as good as it could be. And it also released on far fewer screens than, for instance, ADHM did. Which was Karan’s point, this isn’t just an intellectual exercise for him, he looks at these trends to decide on screen counts and promotions country by country.
It IS doing very very well in New Zealand, Australia, and Malaysia. Following Karan’s theory, I wonder if these locations slant more towards the US, than the UK? Or at least equally? And so the $6,801 per screen in Australia is a hint towards what it might have done in the US, if it hadn’t had so much competition.