Do you like the title? I’m pretty proud of it. Anyhoo, what it means is that Badrinath was very very very good in overseas figures. Very VERY good.
There isn’t a lot of box office news this week with only one release, so I am going to focus on Badrinath exclusively. And everywhere you look, it is very very good! In the Khan release range at the per screen figures.
USA: $4,752 on 152 screens
Canada: $7, 573 on 18 screens
UK: $3,046 on 58 screens
Australia: $8,362 on 20 screens
New Zealand: $7,960 on 18 screens
Malaysia: $14,064 on 1 screen (but remember, most Malaysian screens aren’t reported)
Germany: $411 per screen on 25 screens
For reference, Bollywoodhungama gave us a rundown of Varun’s top previous releases (it’s the little things like that that make me love them):
1. BADRINATH KI DULHANIA – 2.82 mil. USD
2. DISHOOM – 2 mil. USD
3. ABCD 2 – 1.43 mil. USD
4. BADLAPUR – 1 mil. USD
5. HUMPTY SHARMA KI DULHANIA – 924k USD
Every release has had a steady increase. That’s good, that’s healthy. A big jump would mean there’s something more people are coming in for, it’s not just the star. A big drop would mean his star power had dropped.
But this nice steady rise means his star power and/or ability to pick good scripts and/or be cast in bigger movies is also steadily rising. Really, all three of those things are just about being a star. A Star has to have a nose for good scripts, and has to convince producers for a big release strategy. As well as drawing in a growing number of fans.
(maybe we should have more hope for Judwaa 2?)
But, forget Varun for a second, let’s talk about Karan. Look how tiny the box office for Humpty Sharma was! Tiny tiny tiny! And yet this is the movie Karan decided to franchise. More than that, this is the movie that he spent a long time discussing in his autobiography.
Karan can pick up the phone any day and get Varun and Alia to co-star in any movie he wants. Star power is not a problem for him. But this is the script he wanted them in. And he made sure it got a really big release this time, 152 screens in America, that’s a Hrithik Roshan size release. Not quite a Khan release (that’s closer to 300) or a big crossover arty Bhansali type release (also 300). But bigger than Akshay’s quarterly thinking man’s action film releases (around 100 screens). Plus opening all the way to Germany and Malaysia! And he gave it a pretty decent release day too, Holi isn’t the best but it’s not the worst, especially with an open weekend following.
I’m pretty sure 2 States made more money than Humpty Sharma. So why not cast Alia with Arjun again? Or greenlight another film written and directed by Abhishek Varman? Or why not talk about 2 States in his autobiography?
(Also, why am I just now realizing Shandaar and 2 States have the same poster)
All of these things are related, and I think it starts with the autobiography question. Karan talked about the things that were important to him, the things that felt significant in his life. And of the whole string of Dharma films that are coming out, Humpty Sharma was one that was significant. And because it was, he spent time personally supervising the original production and put his two favorite actors in it.
And he watched the release and saw that Alia and Varun’s chemistry was better than Alia and Arjun’s, something special. He must have already known it was better than Sidharth and Alia’s, since he hasn’t cast them opposite each other since SOTY. And he must have seen something in the movie too, something in the release tracking, that made him think this could be good. I don’t have the box office figures for back then, but I suspect it ran on only a few screens, but longer and to a bigger audience than even Karan expected.
And all of this means that when it came time for the sequel, Karan bet big. Well, big for a rom-com with no old-school star. Big release, big promotion, and big release date with a clear week after with no competition. And, looking at those figures up there, big payoff too!
Here’s the thing that I find really fascinating. He bet big, but he didn’t bet huge. He didn’t try to rig the system by releasing on so many screens that a big box office was guaranteed. He didn’t even do THAT many promotions! Not even as many as he did for Baar Baar or Student of the Year. First looks on twitter, and some promotional appearances, and trailers, and all of that. But he didn’t really go outside the box for this one, he did just enough to make sure people knew it was coming out and what it would be like, and left it at that.
Going back to Varun’s steady growth up at the top, the same is true of building up Dharma. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani almost hurt them more than helped them. Suddenly there was a lot more pressure and expectation for Dharma rom-coms. Much better for Karan to grow incrementally. To have these smaller solid releases that slowly get to be bigger and bigger releases. You don’t want to keep chasing that impossible hit all the time. It’s just not good business.