Did anyone notice I skipped last week? I did! Travel and careful number calculations do not go together well. But now I am home again, and ready to catch up. And maybe even put up a video, if the sun comes out again. (as always numbers courtesy of renttrack by way of bollywoodhungama, full info available here)
Big story this week, Tamil! Again! Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru did well in places it shouldn’t have. And poorly in places it should have done well. I have no idea what is happening, but it is sure interesting!
Okay, what do I mean by “well”? In the US, #18 overall, and $2696 per screen. Okay, that’s barely okay. Vikram-Vedha and Mersal, they both landed around $4,000 per screen. But Tamil films never do as well in the US as Telugu films do. And Karthi isn’t the biggest star, and (unlike Mersal) this isn’t a big fun colorful film but a serious drama. And yet it still did more than $2,000 per screen. Not bad! In Australia, about the same.
(Not saying Karthi isn’t cute, but he isn’t the biggest)
But then in the UK, the real mystery, $40 on 14 screens! That’s not per screen, that’s total. HOW?????? $40 doesn’t even divide evenly into 14!!!! My real guess is that renttrack got a report of the full number of screens, but not all the screens reported their sales. So I am going to ignore the $40 and focus on the 14. 14 is pretty good! That’s one less than Tumhari Sulu. So, the distributors are building the Tamil market in the UK, even if the audience isn’t (or is? Really, $40? That just can’t be right!) there yet.
Here’s the other interesting growing story, Pakistani films! Verna came out on 17 screens in the US, 5 in Canada, and 27 in the UK. And it did pretty solid in all 3 places. Terrible if it was a film from any other industry, but considering Pakistani films are just beginning to come back overall, and to break into these new markets, managing to get that many screens and some actual people to come in and see them, that’s good.
(I assume part of the popularity is due to Mahira Khan’s massive international following, after the success of her TV series all over the world, plus slightly heightened name awareness following Raees)
And here’s a funky story, Malayalam! Parava finally came out in the US and did pretty terrible. It’s only on 7 screens, and it did less than a thousand per screen. I’m guessing because it is soooooooooo late in releasing here. It’s not like people are necessarily pirating it or anything, it’s more that the world is so small now, there was all that buzz and discussion when it first came out and we in America got to enjoy that. And now the buzz is gone and it feels like old news, no one else is talking about it, why go see it?
I guess the 7 screens are also part of the problem. If there were more than 7 screens it was playing on, than we Americans could have our own little discussion and buzz experience and so on. But with only 7 screens, we can’t build our own community, and the larger global community has already moved on.
Let’s see, what else is happening? Oh, the Telugu films are all doing terribly. Again, some more. That honeymoon is over. And the Punjabi films aren’t doing too great either. I can’t decide if it is that once the industry press started paying attention to it (all the articles this year about the rise of Telugu after Bahubali, all the articles last year about the rise of Punjabi), the audience pulled a reverse psychology type reaction and immediately looked elsewhere. Or if it is a matter of distributors swamping the market, getting used to this big returns and over promoting and releasing even films that can’t bring in those returns until the audience gets tired. Or if it is the filmmakers’ fault, they just got lazy.
(Bahubali! But one film does not a movement make, and does not an audience make. We aren’t all going to blindly continue watching Telugu films just because we happened to like something in the same language)
Whatever malaise is affecting those industries, I am beginning to have some vague hope that the Hindi films are starting to come out of it. I may be kidding myself, but it does look slightly brighter this week. Tumhari Sulu made slightly more than $3,000 per screen on 50 screens.
50 screens is a lot. It’s no Khan release, or even an Akshay or an Ajay. But it’s more than this week’s two new Telugu films got combined. $3,000 per screen isn’t a lot, but it isn’t a little either. Especially if word of mouth manages to grow and keep it steady next week. Secret Superstar did only slightly better than this per screen. On a lot more screens, but still, only slightly better.
All of the stuff I am talking about really gets back to Tumhari Sulu. Because it is a smaller Hindi release, because the other Hindi releases are also small right now, there is space for other industries to spread out and find an audience. It isn’t good for Hindi to dominate so entirely, to take up every screen for an audience that is tired of their films. A week like this week, it lets Tamil find new audience, Pakistani films be rewarded with new audiences, and it lets the other Hindi films hang on a little longer too.
Ittefaq, in week 3, is still on 28 screens and making slightly more than $1,000 per screen. Could be making more, but that’s not terrible, that’s still a profit for 28 theaters. Secret Superstar on week 5 is still on 26 screens and also making slightly more than $1,000 per screen. Qarib Qarib Singlle, also making slightly more than $1,000 per screen. Lower than the other two, but still in the $1,000 range.
So let me put this in terms of the small theater owner. Say you have 5 screens. You are playing Ittefaq, Verna, Tumhari Sulu, Qarib Qarib Singlle, and one of the new Telugu films. The Telugu film is giving you a loss. Verna is giving you a slight profit, so is Tumhari Sulu. Qarib Qarib Single and Ittefaq are breaking even. So you are coming out ahead this week.
Compare that with, say, the week Tubelight came out. If you owned a 5 screen theater, you set aside 3 screens for Tubelight. The first week, you make a slight profit on those 3 screens, and take a loss on the other two because nothing big opened opposite it since everyone else was scared to compete. The second week, you are still stuck with Tubelight, and you take a loss on all 5 screens. The same thing the week after that.
(I will never get tired of beating up on Tubelight. It’s this year’s Fitoor)
It may not be as flashy and exciting as when you have some big box office record breaking film, but this is a good week overall. The films with the most screens were all solid. Not great, but okay to breaking even. And there was plenty of screens for everyone to get their film out there and find an audience.