Global Box Office is out! And once again, like last week, things look great everywhere but America. Stubborn Americans, we just don’t like anything. (as always, figures courtesy of Bollywoodhungama and Rentrack)
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first, everything is terrible in America. In general (my sister is in Maine where 64% of the state is without power and will be for the next few days), but also specifically in terms of film.
Last week there was a faint bright spot with Golmaal Again and Secret Superstar doing modestly well. But now they have both dropped off. Golmaal Again more than Secret Superstar, which is extra depressing. Golmaal was never going to be a word of mouth film, that is, everyone who wanted to see it was going to see it in the first week. They knew what it would be and new they would like it, plus it is such a holiday release, you would want to see it with the family while they were in town. But I was hoping it would be a repeat viewing film, heck, I kind of want to see it again! So bright and fun and happy. And apparently, no. It went down to $1,837 per screen this week.
(How can you not love this?)
Secret Superstar held a little more steady, but that was to be expected. The Aamir people, the “well, we don’t usually see a movie but this looks classy” people, are more likely to wait for the second week or whenever is convenient to see a film rather than rushing out to catch it. But it’s still not that good, $2,692 per screen.
Mersal fared the worst. After not being super impressive opening weekend, it has already dropped to only around $1,000 per screen in the second week. Nothing non-Hindi is doing well, the audience isn’t leaving Hindi films in preference for another language, they just aren’t watching movies at all. They aren’t watching Hollywood films either, the American box office is in maybe the worst state it’s been ever.
But things are way more interesting in other places in the world!!!! In the UK, Secret Superstar and Golmaal are both not doing well, although Golmaal is doing slightly better per screen, $1,767, versus Secret Superstar $1,666. Secret Superstar also released on way more screens, showing the faith in the slightly more intellectual audience in the UK to pick Aamir over Ajay. But no, just like everywhere else, they had a slight preference for silly antics over serious drama.
But the big exciting news is Ramaleela! Dileep’s new Malayalam political thriller, opening on NINETY-NINE SCREENS!!!!! I think that is the largest opening a Malayalam film has ever gotten in the UK, it’s huge even for a Hindi film in the UK. Doing terribly per screen, about $300 per, but just to achieve that kind of release is phenomenal!!!! There must be a new distributor working with Malayalam film who is very ambitious.
(Or maybe they just really like drumming?)
Oh, and also exciting, Mersal continues to do record breaking business for a Tamil film in the UK, almost $3,000 per screen in the second week. Which wouldn’t be that impressive for American business for a Tamil film, but for a market that has never really taken off with a Tamil film before, very very impressive. Just for perspective, it opened last week at 11 at the UK box office, same as Kabali with a Telugu dub and way way more screens. And it is holding steady in it’s second week.
Mersal is doing even better through the Commonwealth. Shockingly unbelievably good in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. But, why? I’ve seen it now, I should have some kind of an idea. And yet, I do not. The songs are great, it’s bright and big and colorful. But it didn’t blow me away the way Kabali did. The political message is searing, but also very specific, does the greater Australian audience really care about the new GST rate in India?
Maybe the audience is just starved for a big film? Golmaal Again is also doing very very well in all of those markets, another film with big bright songs and all that. It’s a little less ambitious than Mersal, doesn’t have quite the same amount of Masala flavoring (romance and action and drama and all that), but it’s the same sort of old school and unashamed film.
As I mentioned last week, Canada and Australia and New Zealand and the UK are kind of the oldest markets. Just because of immigration patterns and so on. And they are all similar in loving Mersal and preferring Golmaal Again to Secret Superstar, to varying degrees. But what about the newer markets? Well, they all LOVE Secret Superstar!!!!
Turkey, Scandinavia, UAE, it’s going gang busters. I think partly because they don’t have another option. That is, Aamir is the only producer/star interested in breaking into these new markets. So he is coming first and everyone else will follow along behind thanks to the new ground he is breaking. Right now the Turkish audience is thinking “yay, Indian films! Just like we used to see when I was/my father was/my grandfather was a child!” (there is a long uneven history of Indian film distribution to that territory, little spurts and then stops). But if others pursue this market, give it 5 years and they will be saying “Well, Aamir’s new film is out, but I kind of feel like a comedy this week, so I am going to skip it and watch Ajay’s new film instead”.
I’ll be very curious to see how Ittefaq does this week. It’s the classic film that does well in America and the UK, high quality production and a more thought provoking kind of plot. Jab Harry Met Sejal, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Talaash, all did very well in those two markets. But right now, I just don’t know! Will Americans be able to overcome their sudden aversion to movie theaters in order to see it? And will the UK instead continue its swing towards the south?