Another depressing week at the box office! Which people are trying to spin as good thanks to Judwaa breaking Badrinath Ki Dulhania‘s record. But that was on many fewer screens with a lot less pressure, whereas right now Judwaa is the only game in town and it’s just not doing that great if you think of it that way. (as always, figures courtesy of bollywoodhungama)
Right now, in the US, Judwaa is doing only around $1,000 per screen. Which is disastrous! Not for Varun Dhawan, he is still the top Indian film in America and has broken his previous records. But for those poor 192 theater owners who are taking a big loss.
Mahanubhavudu is doing slightly better, closer to $1,500 per screen. Which is interesting, since once again it follows the narrative we have seen all year. The more relationship based Telugu films have longer solider runs than the big action films. Spyder fell off a cliff literally on the second day. Mahanubhavudu didn’t open too well, but it also hasn’t dropped off drastically in the second weekend. Could turn into another Arjun Reddy, Fidaa, Ninnu Kori which just runs and runs and runs.
(Like the other movies, simple realistic poster, actors that the audience knows tend to do more relationship interesting films, and a clear indication that it will be a romance)
But both of those are still doing better than Chef, opening weekend and only $800 per screen. On 54 screens. I think that is too many screens and not enough promotion. Chef was a nice solid little movie. And hits that sweet spot of pleasant relationship based that the Telugu industry has been chugging along in all year. Chef should have done well. Not spectacularly well, but better than this. Maybe if instead of being promoted as a “Saif Ali Khan Movie” it was promoted more like Bareilly Ki Barfi, where the story is the centerpiece, not the stars. Or the setting, it has gorgeous Kerala visuals, with a little bit of Goa and Delhi too. Or even the Raghu Dixit soundtrack, a different kind of music for a film.
I think maybe they thought they were promoting that, by putting out a trailer that gives you the whole feel of the film. But I don’t know if the right people even saw that trailer, or if they wrote it off without paying much attention as just “Saif in another romance”. Maybe a series of interviews with Raghu Dixit, or some special events in Kerala to indicate that there is a strong connection to place.
Or maybe it’s just a transition point. The Telugu industry and audience seems to have woken up to this new style of film, Mahanubhavudu was released opposite Spyder because the filmmakers knew there would be an audience for this alternative kind of film, and the audience had learned to expect that there would always be a smaller relationship based film available to them, and to seek it out. But the Hindi audience doesn’t know that yet, doesn’t realize that these smaller films are being made and how to find them. And the filmmakers aren’t quite sure yet how to promote them.
Which brings me to Shubh Mangal Saavdhan and Bareilly Ki Barfi! Doing better per screen in their respective 8th and 6th weeks than Chef in it’s first, or the “hit” Judwaa. It took them a while, but they found their audience. Not in the first week, but in the second and third. And fourth and fifth and sixth. I’ve been focusing on how filmmakers are learning/should be learning from these films. But the audience should be learning too. Learning that these films are out there, that they need to know how to find them faster, or else they will disappear from theaters before people get a chance to see them.
There are a couple of interesting differences in the global box office this week. Judwaa continues to do way way better in Australia and New Zealand than in the US and the UK. Which relates back to the Chef box office. The US and the UK are craving something different, and I think Chef is what they want. But the promotions weren’t slanted that way, didn’t make it clear.