Box Office: Mahesh Babu Moves Bucks!!!!

Does that headline work? I think it works. The point is, FINALLY, there is an old time massive Telugu hit at the American box office. And also the Australian box office. But not Canada, never Canada. (as always, numbers courtesy of Renttrack by way of bollywoodhungama)

Bharat Anu Nene, on 190 screens in America, $12,662 per screen!!!! BOO-YA!!!! THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!!!!! Both total amount, and number of screens. Not a crazy high number of screens indicating a lot of four wall rentals by people who just want to make a profit for themselves, and not a crazy low per screen average indicating that no one had any interest in seeing this movie.

Image result for bharat anu nenu

I’m assuming that there were four wall rentals which weren’t included in this tracking but, thank goodness, there was also apparently a legitimate distributor who worked with Renttrack, unlike Spyder (Mahesh Babu’s last release) which was a mystery wrapped in an enigma in terms of box office.

Spyder, if you remember, released on many many screens. I don’t know exactly how many because that information wasn’t made available, but I know it seemed to be playing on every screen at every theater all around me. It didn’t feel that way with this movie, and 190 screens means it probably wasn’t that way. Sure my all Indian theater has it playing every hour on 3 out of 5 screens, but it’s not as dominating everywhere else.

The other thing I am not sure of with this film is the promotion levels. My feeling with Spyder was a strong drive to “you MUST see this film opening night”, which meant everyone went opening night and no one went after that. I don’t know if this film had a more reasonable “This is a decent film, come by when you have a chance” sort of attitude, but I hope so. Because that seems far more sustainable.

So, that’s America. Spyder in other countries, also good. Good in the traditional markets, it’s no Mersal crossing over in the UK or anything like that. But that’s fine, so long as it is holding steady and stable in the usual places. It did $8,924 per screen in Australia, which isn’t as good as it could be (I think Bajirao did twice that), but Telugu has only really broken through in Australia in the past couple of years, so that’s pretty good for a new-ish market. More importantly, it beat the new Punjabi release by like 20 times, and Punjabi releases do traditionally do well in Australia. Although last week’s Punjabi film is still going strong, about $2,250 per screen. So maybe this week’s film was just a bad movie, and if it had been better able to put up a competition, Bharat Anu Nene would not have done so well this week.

(I will use any excuse to post this song. “Love Rabbit”!!!!)

New Zealand, it did terribly, less than $1,000 per screen, but also only on 3 screens which makes me think either there are more screens that aren’t being counted, or the distributors weren’t that serious about that market and didn’t bother with promotions. Last week’s Punjabi film was also holding steady there, while this weeks did horribly.

In other news, Beyond the Clouds did about what you would expect. So, not great. $700 per screen in America, $380 in Canada, $225 in the UK. The UK is the really interesting one to me, because it opened on 42 screens. Which is A LOT. And that shows that the filmmakers and distributors thought the arty intellectual UK audience would go for this movie. And they didn’t.

Now, here’s what’s extra interesting. October is doing better this week (for a week two) than it did last week (for a week one). Last week it opened in America on 131 screens, which was real stupid. And it made $1,500 per screen. This week, it dropped down to 54 screens, and made $1,500 per screen. $1,500 for the second week of a Varun Dhawan movie is not great. Not quite horrible yet, but not great. $1,500 per screen for an art film with no songs in the second week is pretty darn good! And way way way way way better than Beyond the Clouds (which would garner a similar art film crowd) is doing.

Last week we talked about how, possibly, promoting October as a “Varun Dhawan” movie was scaring away the art film crowd. I am now wondering if, instead, it just made them hesitant. And of course also, that screen count was super stupid. So in week one on the blockbuster number screens, you got a few people who were so curious they had to see it opening night, a few die hard Varun fans, but not nearly enough to fill 131 theaters. Now, in week 2, the Varun promotions are dying down and instead it is the usual art film style promotions, people who rely on word of mouth or read reviews, coming in because they have heard good things about it and want to check it out.

54 screens means it is available to anyone who is really really interested. That is, you might have to drive for an hour, but you can still see it. And a film like this, that’s who it is going to attract, you aren’t going to have people saying “oh look, October starts in 15 minutes and we are already at the theater, let’s go see that”, which is what you get with 131 screens. If it had released on 54 screens in the first place, gotten those people who were too curious to wait a week, it probably would have had a really decent per screen average. And then this, the second week, it would have been down to 30 screens, and still had a really decent average.

Last week I said the numbers were terrible, and they were, all over the world. But this week they are exactly the same amount of terrible. It hasn’t actually dropped off anywhere. Specifically looking at the UK, last week it was $677 per screen on an astounding 50 screens. This week, it is on a far more reasonable 18 screens and is only down to $580. While Beyond the Clouds opened on slightly fewer screens, 42, and only made $225. So it may not be a matter of October being cursed (although it still is really not doing well), but more being poorly released. Versus Beyond the Clouds which was released in a completely reasonable manner, smaller number of screens and promotion aimed at the arty crowd, and still did horribly. That’s the cursed movie.

Image result for beyond the clouds

Screen count is a complicated thing, is the message of this week. If you release too big, you tire the box office out. Whether you are a massive Mahesh Babu Telugu film, or a small Hindi art movie with Varun Dhawan, the key is the right amount of screens for your film. 190 was the right amount, maybe even slightly too small, for Bharat Anu Nene. 131 was much much too many for October.

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33 thoughts on “Box Office: Mahesh Babu Moves Bucks!!!!

    • An outside group rents out one screen in a theater and shows the film and gets all the ticket money. Separate from the theater itself, the outside group working directly with the distributor. In this case, it’s usually an event promoter who does it, not a regular movie person, so they don’t bother submitting their numbers to Renttrack.

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        • I am so out of it, I don’t even know. Let me check The Internet.

          The Internet says, Kiara Advani who played Sakshi Dhoni in the Dhoni biopic and hasn’t done much else. Oh, also Fugly I guess. Only one heroine this time around, but Prakash Raj plays a double role! Maybe. That’s what the cast list looks like. Also, many characters described by relationships (stepmother, mother, father, uncle, etc.). And something I saw said the Mahesh is an American returned student thanks to promise to his dying mother to help his country. So I am going to guess a romance with Kiara overseas, followed by a return to India, meeting Kiara again and discovering they are connected in some way (possibly cousins, possibly just with complex family connections), getting to know his estranged family as he finds his own way of enforcing reforms in his community, which in this case is all of Andra Pradesh. Also, fight scenes and good music. And family relationships that are so complex I have no hope of following them without knowing Telugu relationship words.

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          • Perfect!!

            Will you be watching this?
            my local theater will be accepting moviepass on weekdays 😦

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          • If it ever gets cheaper, or moviepass accepting. And if I have time (the closest theater that is playing it is still 45 minutes away). I definitely want to watch it, just a matter of logistics and price.

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          • I don’t think that is even possible? Unless he is playing his real age.

            On Tue, Apr 24, 2018 at 9:29 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Yep, that’s my understanding! Except based on what I’ve seen in movies, Chief Ministers are way way more powerful and exciting than Governors. Or maybe that’s just in movies.

            On Tue, Apr 24, 2018 at 9:31 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Well, that’s disappointing!

            On Tue, Apr 24, 2018 at 9:33 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  1. I think your headline should be “Mahesh Babu Moves Bucks”. Mohan Babu is a different actor, good enough, but not at Mahesh Babu’s level of stardom, so your current headline is going to confuse a lot of people. It certainly confused me. 🙂

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  2. Pingback: Box Office: Mohan Babu Moves Bucks!!!! — dontcallitbollywood – Business Startup-Bay Area

  3. Margaret, you’ve pretty much got the plot all wrong. Prakash Raj plays a two faced villain, but not a double role. It’s a good film, and worth seeing. Mahesh does have a mother that dies young — and teaches him the value of a promise kept. But it’s another tragedy that brings him back to India, and has Prakash nominating Mahesh to become Chief Minister. There’s an American President (Michael Douglas/Annette Benning) style romance with Kiara that’s really cute.

    But the key is that Mahesh delivers some of the best dialogue speeches of his entire career. There’s a particular press conference scene that is absolutely riveting and amazing. He’s at a new level of intensity, and the film is mostly a drama, with a couple of the obligatory action scenes. It’s not exactly like Mirchi, but does have the “message” theme as Siva’s other films have had — like the environmentalist who kicks ass in Janatha Garage. I found I could guess where the plot was going, but it was still fun to watch it all play out. Mahesh gets to do some meaty drama acting, and gives the crowd the scenes to whistle for as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This sounds awesome! I will definitely try to see it this weekend. The downside to the low number of screens is that it is hard to find a convenient screening.

      On Wed, Apr 25, 2018 at 12:49 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. The people who distributed Bharat Ane Nenu in the United States were the same group that did Baahubali 2. They got some flack on Twitter from fans since the movie wasn’t playing on as many screens as recent releases like Spyder and Agnyathavaasi. But they said that they decided to get screens only at places where Baahubali 2 did well at.

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    • Oh, that makes sense! Bahubali 2 opened on a ton of screens near me, but some of them did really really bad. Smart choice on the part of the distributors, I hope this company decides to keep releasing films.

      On Wed, Apr 25, 2018 at 1:50 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • They are called Great India Films and it looks like they’ve had releases dating back to Athadu in 2005. They did Bhaagamathie after Baahubali 2 so how did that do? Also their next release after Bharat Ane Nenu is Allu Arjun’s Naa Peru Surya so that may be a similar screen count.

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  5. I’m so happy that Bharat Ane Nenu is doing so well though! Based on my friend’s reaction, this movie has the Mahesh we’ve been missing.

    It sucks but this is the first time I missed a Mahesh movie in the theater in the opening weekend since Businessman in 2012. Usually the big releases come out here in College Station but Bharat Ane Nenu didn’t come out. I’m worried that Avengers Infinity War is gonna take away more screens and I won’t be able to see Bharat Ane Nenu this upcoming weekend😬

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      • I really want to see Infinity War and I already bought tickets to it but Mahesh is more important! Hopefully Bharat Ane Nenu does well enough that it stays in theaters a while…

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  6. Yes, even last week they were saying that October was having daily improving box office. I bet that was true of piku and Vicky donor too. I just wasn’t sure if that news was just spin or not, I.e. tell ppl the movie is doing well, then people will see it.

    Beyond the Clouds is in the tradition of the outsider coming in and making movies about the seedier and poorer side of India. Poverty Porn is a subset of this idea. These movies never work well with south Asians or their diaspora, for a variety of reasons. It feels like cultural tourism or cultural imperialism, even with Iran not necessarily being an imperial power (Persian empire notwithstanding). Iranian New Wave is a lauded cinematic movement, so its cache serves as an imperialism of sorts, a stamp of reliability and authority, but not granted by Indians. And Indians don’t want these stories from the outside, it feels like they are ignoring the rest of India. That’s why Gandhi and Lunchbox were so successful with Indians, they weren’t poverty porn in any way.
    They would have done better to market this movie to the international audience as a “foreign” film, ala Salaam Bombay, Jai Ho, rather than making this an Indian release which happens to be releasing globally. South Asians eventually see these movies too, but only after some international success.

    October otoh is a universal story that happens to be set in India and obviously informed by that setting but not dictated by it. And it’s made by Indians, furthermore Indians who have proven success with Indian films, and even further, Indians with success telling quirky stories about middle class people. It isn’t telling Indian that they are poor, drug runners, etc. These are middle class people, even an IIT professor. This is an easier sell to the Indian audience.

    My guess is, the Iranian film would have done better box office among the Bollywood audience if it had been made by an Anurag Kashyap or Dibaker Banarjee instead. Not a blockbuster but a genre hit. Indians are far more open to its seedier side by presented by its own people, since it feels like a portrayal and not a relegation.

    Further guess is that the Iranian director might have better success both with Indians and internationally by making October, with or without varun. It feels like a “foreign” indie film.

    Finally, re your post about the Third film, Ishaan had followed a clever strategy, which if it works might become a blueprint for future star kids.
    1. Announce a launch film with a big banner. This will be seen as your First film.
    2. Make an indie film with as lauded director, esp one famous in the indie scene, with a good acting turn. Have it release before the launch film. This will be treated as your Second film, even though it released first.
    3. Now your Third film will be based on both your proven star power from the First film and your proven acting chops from the Second film. Only you can move directly and easily to the Third film without waiting for that Second film, because the Second film already happened before the First.

    Does that make sense?

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    • Your re-working of the 1-2-3 film makes total sense! And I think Ishaan isn’t the first, Sharmila for instance back in the 60s did her art movies, and then got her big launch. Tanisha too, she had Ssssssh and Sarkar, and then Neal ‘n Nikki.

      And he has the advantage as an artist too, he learned how to do gritty realism style acting, and Dharma romance acting, and can go into his 3rd film with both tools in his toolbox.

      And if a producer is debating whether to cast him, they can look at his performance in Clouds, and sign him even before Dhadak releases, so he avoids that gap between films.

      On Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 11:58 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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