Phew! Finally! A film doing exactly the same as it would have done last year, bring us back to “normal” instead of continuing the shocking slide downhill. (as always numbers from rentrack by way of bollywoodhungama)
Setting aside Ittefaq for the moment, Mersal, Secret Superstar, and Golmaal are all following the pattern they have been following. Doing fantastic in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, doing so-so in England with Secret Superstar holding a bit more steady, and doing surprisingly bad (compared to how they are everywhere else) in America.
The one slightly interesting thing, Mersal is dropping quite a bit in week 3. So it opened really big, that is great. Not just on a lot of screens, but per screen. Only it doesn’t seem to be bringing in as much repeat and word of mouth business as it could. It’s not like Spyder, with a record breaking plummet, that’s good. It didn’t swamp the market opening week or anything like that. It’s just not as much of a repeat film as it could be. Still going fantastic in Canada, over $10,000 per screen (not a typo, there are 4 zeros there), way better than even Punjabi films are doing. No idea what’s happening with that, has it been a bad year for Punjabi films or something? Are people craving an over the top hero type? It dropped to about $1,000 per screen in the UK, and down to $2,000 in Australia. And to around $600 in America, but then it didn’t open that great here in the first place. For week 3, all these figures are respectable (except America), but not a sign of a landmark film, more a film that is very enjoyable in theaters and then you forget it.
(Or maybe everyone is skipping in protest because the real song videos are STILL not available on youtube, just the stupid lyric slide versions)
Secret Superstar, slightly better, but as I said in my box office video last week, that’s just an Aamir film. Aamir people are less likely to make seeing a movie opening night their first priority, more likely to get to it when they get to it. It’s still not showing the kind of numbers that are telling me “people just love this movie and can’t get enough of it”.
(At least, I think I said that. It seems like something I would have said)
Golmaal Again, dropping a lot, even in Canada. But that doesn’t surprise me, not in week 3. I was happy with the good opening, and hoping for a good week 2 as people came back with friends or just to recreate a happy experience. But even if there had been a good week 2, I think a good week 3 might be a bit much to expect, it’s not like anyone needs to see Golmaal Again three times in order to fully grasp the subtleties. And without a good week 2, for sure there wasn’t going to be a good week 3.
Okay, forget all that, Ittefaq!!!!! $3,348 per screen in the US, even in the depressed and stressed and not interested in movies US we are coming out for it. It’s not great, I’d like to have seen it up to $4,000 or above. But considering that nothing except Jab Harry Met Sejal has gone that high this year, I will let it go.
Same in Canada, $3,651 per screen. Again, not great, but still good enough to be #20 at the Canadian box office this week. And solidly better than the new Punjabi release, both in per screen and total take.
In the UK, $2,612 per screen. Not great, but solid. And better than most things have opened this year.
Australia is the highest so far, $3,882 per screen. And once again, better than the Punjabi release!!!
New Zealand, almost exactly the same, $3,914 per screen. And again, beat the Punjabi options. By a lot.
So, why do I find this so exciting? We aren’t talking record breaking figures, just solid ones. Well, that’s what is so exciting!
This is what a film like this “should” be doing. No major star, no major publicity campaign, no massive budget and spectacle. It “should” be opening around $4,000 and then slowly dropping to $2,000 per screen, before finally leaving theaters a month after it comes out.
And it should be opening on just a few screens! Ittefaq was only on 67 screens in the US, even Golmaal Again in week 3 is still on 111 screens. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ittefaq even adds screens next week, as word of mouth spreads and other films leave the theaters. But I would be very surprised if, even with adding screens, it goes over 120.
So, why do I love this release strategy? Let me count the ways:
1. Minimal promotion. They don’t want to drive everyone in opening weekend, they want a few people to be intrigued and check it out, but that’s it.
2. Minimal release. Seeing how it goes this weekend, with the possibility of adding screens depending on the buzz next weekend.
3. Counting on the film to stand on its own. It’s dignified, but it’s also smart. People won’t be able to pre-judge the film, because there is nothing there to judge. One trailer, one half of a press conference, and that’s it.
And why is this good for the industry as a whole:
1. Saves on the promotion budget, and stretches out the profit for the movie theaters. Some people will come opening weekend, some will come later, the movie theater has to pay its staff every single week, so this is better for them.
2. Leaves space for other films. Qarrib Qarrib Singlle is coming out next week. It can easily find a decent number of screens and will be running long enough to build its own word of mouth. Ittefaq isn’t something like Padmavati, which is going to kill any smaller film.
3. In the “bad word of mouth” era, you run the risk of the buzz going against you before your film has even come out, people feeling like they have to have an opinion just because it’s what everyone is talking about. Much smarter to keep it quiet, wait for people to talk until the film is actually there to be judged on its own.
So, yaaaay Ittefaq!!! Hopefully it grows in week 2 and has a steady long run. And hopefully it makes other producers start looking towards their smaller films. Or shaving down their promotions for the bigger films. And realizing that it is healthier for everyone to go on a film diet and slim down the product, promotion, and release just a bit.