Box Office: Ittefaq Hits Big, Not a Coincidence

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.

22 thoughts on “Box Office: Ittefaq Hits Big, Not a Coincidence

  1. Ittefaq sounds a lot more appealing to me than Secret Superstar, not gonna lie. Things are too grim here in the US for me to watch anything related to domestic violence even with a candy coated fantasy ending. Problem is Ittefaq is playing really far from me so doubt I’ll catch it in a theater. I’ll have to wait to see my first Hindi film with an audience.

    On another note, I’m glad Aamir is doing Thugs of Hindostan next just to get away from message films. Just a flat out entertaining movie would be good at this point.

    And really on another note, I read a an interesting article on the significance of DDLJ to the NRI community and while I still doubt I can get through the movie it was good to get that perspective. There was so much in that film that flew right over my head.

    (how did I get so obsessed with all this in such a short period of time???)


    • Yep, that was my problem with Secret Superstar, too real. Ittefaq, not real at all! And if my guess is right, it might be in more theaters next week, so you may still have a chance to catch it.

      For a theater film, I have serious issues with Padmavati, but it will almost certainly be playing everywhere in a few weeks. If you can wait though, Tiger Zinda Hai will be a blast in theaters. Salman movies always are, one of my favorite things about him is that he definitely makes movies for the big screen and the big crowd experience.

      What was the DDLJ article? Do you remember? Or the author? There’s been a lot written on it, mostly about the NRI piece, which is why I’ve been focusing more on the gender stuff as it intertwines with Indian identity in my analysis, just to get something new.


      • I don’t remember, I’ve been reading so much lately and I didn’t bookmark it. I do think the NRI thing may be why SRK isn’t grabbing me. Charming rogue who’s really just a good Indian boy doesn’t plug into any of my social programming.


    • I had seen quite a few Hindi films before I first saw DDLJ in 2013 & it took me a few watches before I fell in love with it. And there were so many details & nuances I didn’t grasp until I began reading Margaret’s Scene By Scene. I just loved it for SRK before this & while it had become to me the kind of ‘comfort food’ movie I can watch over & over I never really understood why Aditya Chopra is considered such a genius for making it on his first try.

      Now that I understand Indian culture a little better (tho as an American I’m still mystified that only SRK is not ‘allowed’ to kiss a woman w/o causing a major controversy) I understand the film a lot better. Note: Margaret~you can stop snickering just cuz I just assumed Simran’s family were Sikhs.

      I can almost guarantee that you’ll end up loving DDLJ like the rest of us!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve never had good luck showing DDLJ to people as their first film. It was for me, but I was watching it in the theater. There was a moment about an hour in I had the thought process of “well, it’s kind of dull and I don’t really like it, but at least it’s an experience and I can’t just walk out”. And then of course it drew me in. Seeing it on the big screen, not being distracted by anything else, it really worked wonders. But it is hard to recreate that experience, especially if it is one of your earlier films.

        I usually recommend a 3 step process, K3G, then KKHH, then DDLJ. It’s worst to best in terms of quality, but that’s the point, to help you fully appreciate the best by the time you get there.


      • About why SRK is apparently the only one who can’t kiss on screen without outrage, I don’t really get it either. I’m guessing people have a strange attachment to him that they don’t have with other actors. There seems to be a possessiveness there that they can’t handle him behaving any differently than what they assume him to be in their heads.

        Regardless of whether or not his last few films were hits or not, I appreciate that he has shattered expectations of everyone either way who try to box him into certain molds. The outrage can’t last forever about anything – everyone will get used to him doing whatever he wants eventually.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. It’s funny how few years before, everyone in India loved ddlj and yashraj, and cut to now, the whole genre and Aditya Chopra are made fun of. Mohabbatein is the most thrashed movie ever. If you want a laugh, go through this :


    • I bet it’s an age thing. The first generation for whom DDLJ isn’t a sentimental reminder of youth but rather “that thing my parents watched” is now out there writing articles and buying movie tickets.

      Give it another 10 years, and Yash Raj type stuff will swing from “old-fashioned” to “retro-cool”.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Hmm maybe. It’s more of a guilty pleasure type thing for me. Also, I grew up watching those movies, and had very unrealistic expectations about love and romantic relationships. Boy was I suprised when I had a real relationship 😛


  4. I did not realize that Qarrib Qarrib Singlle is releasing next week. Wow, it has so little buzz especially since this is Irrfan’s next mainstream release after Hindi Medium.


    • I’m trying to be optimistic, maybe the little buzz will make it another Bareilly Ki Barfi where word of mouth just grows and grows week by week.

      But more likely it’s just incompetent producers.

      On Tue, Nov 7, 2017 at 10:51 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • Yeah, getting really good reviews will help increase the buzz. I thought the trailer was cute so I hope the movie turns out to be pretty good. Are you planning on seeing it if it comes to theaters near you?


        • I want to, but I am visiting my sister this weekend (yay!) and she leaves in an Indian film deadzone (booo!) so I am not sure I will be able too. If it has good buzz, hopefully it will still be playing next weekend.

          On Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 11:11 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  5. All for the slim diet in Cinema – especially the promotion part. As a friend and I discussed a few months ago by the time the movie releases people are exhausted. They are worn out from all the stuff before – poster teaser, poster1, poster 2, song1 teaser, song1, ….., trailer launch countdown, trailer, press conference, media appearances. By the end it’s lol just release the movie and move on. Enough!
    Recently I recall someone saying that the promo on Tv is more for the star to increase their brand value rather than do anything for the movie. That part is taken care of by the trailer. (I think akshaye said it in a Q&A with Karan and the Ittefaq cast)

    Even movies need to start toning down on budgets. There should be a justification for the large amounts of money spent.


    • *There should be a justification for the large amounts of money spent. *

      I have a feeling that more expensive hindi movie are, more soulless they become. I hardly watch Hollywood movies, but the few I have seen were more “let’s add special effect to reinforce the plot” while hindi movies are “let’s add special effect and spend a lot of money to distract people from non-exsistent plot”. And then they are surprised that movies flop.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hate to break the news to you, but Hollywood is way way worse with adding special effects and ignoring plot. Not with the really good movies, but the other ones. Although I think Hindi films in particular tend to lean on songs in the same way Hollywood leans on special effects. Like adding “Kala Chasme” to Baar Baar Dekho.

        On Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 5:18 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



    • Absolutely. It hasn’t reached this point yet, but in America starting a few years ago people started editing together all the various trailers for, like, big superhero movies and pointing out that you literally saw 2/3rds of the movie before you got to the theater. Because there would be the teaser, and the character teaser, and the action teaser, and the humor teaser, and two different versions of the full length trailer, and you felt like you saw the movie already because you HAD seen the movie already!!!

      On Wed, Nov 8, 2017 at 2:50 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: New Youtube Video! This Week’s Box Office | dontcallitbollywood

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