Box Office: Race 3 Loses the Race

Yes, that is a click bait title.  I’m not even sorry.  Because, it’s true!  It did really terrible box office, for a major release, especially compared with the other films that are in week 3 and 6.  (as always, figures from bollywoodhungama courtesy of renttrack)

Race 3 released on 284 screens in America, about the same as Sultan and slightly less than Tiger Zinda Hai.  And just like Sultan and Tiger, it made around $4,500 per screen.  That’s not nothing, that’s probably more than any Hollywood film is doing.  But Bajrangi Bhaijaan made far more than that on far fewer screens.  $4,000 is kind of the lowest acceptable amount for opening weekend for a Khan film, and both Salman and Shahrukh have been hitting no more than that for the past few years.  Salman considerably less with Tubelight, only around $2,000 per screen.  While Shahrukh never dropped below that, at least not in overseas opening weekend.  Second weekend, big big drops, but opening weekend is still around $4,000.

(Yes, even Jab Harry Met Sejal did decent business overseas opening weekend)

That’s America, but the story around the world is about the same for Race 3.  $5,000 per screen in Canada, which is pretty pitiful for Canada Land of Expensive Movie Tickets.  $8,845 in Australia which would be impressive if other films weren’t pulling in double figure thousands.  Same in New Zealand, around $9,000 which is less impressive compared to what other movies are doing.

In all of this there are two real outliers: the UK and Germany.  $5,000 per screen in the UK which is BIG BIG money for the UK.  And $1,700 per screen in Germany which is almost unheard of.

I think there’s probably a real simple explanation for this.  Both the UK and Germany have a large Muslim population, which is still not big enough for there to be a lot of Eid options, and this was a holiday release.  Not like they all went “oooo, I love Salman and therefore want to celebrate Eid with him”, more just “It’s a holiday and this is the biggest movie that is playing and a nice way to celebrate”.  Meanwhile in places with smaller Muslim populations (like Canada) or places with more variety in how to celebrate (like America, where a big new Telugu film released and a bunch of other Hindi films were still playing), there was less of a holiday bump.

Image result for race 3 eid

(Salman, of course, spent Eid with his family)


But the bigger question is what is going on with the box office for Salman in general.  There’s the Eid bump, that was certainly present at the theater I was in, people all dressed up and in a holiday mood.  And there’s the general Salman bump, he is still popular with the audience and a big name to help with promotions.  But the movie itself just couldn’t live up to that.  I saw it opening night and it was sold out in a theater that never sells out.  Alicia reported when she went to the theater late on Saturday, there was a line waiting to get in.  So it’s selling out, at least in the evening shows in some theaters in the first two days.  But these overall box office figures are telling me that it’s not selling out the daytime shows, or the Sunday shows.  Or else that theater owners are straight up lying about box office figures, but that is pretty unlikely in America with the way distributors work.  So what I am left with is that Salman can still really really open a movie, but doesn’t have the staying power even into day 3.

If my theater were only part full on Friday, then I would say $4,000 is probably a stable figure for every show.  But since it was completely sold out, and this was at the non-Indian theater that doesn’t ever sell out for Indian films, then I would guess over all something closer to $10,000 per screen for opening night.  Holiday bump, Salman bump, all of that combined.  And Alicia saw something similar at a more desi theater on Saturday night.  So to drop down to $4,000 per screen means there has to have been a really massive fall between Friday and Sunday.  I would guess all theaters sold out Friday, desi theaters doing decent business Saturday for the die hard fans, and then nothing selling anywhere on Sunday.

This is a gentler version of the fall we saw with some of the Telugu films, literally record breaking opening nights, empty theaters by night two.  It’s not quite there, more like a good opening and then half full theaters, not the completely stunning turn around.  But it’s the same overall trend, a big push towards a big opening followed by a rapid decline.

It’s also part of the trend in Telugu films and Hindi films where the star power just can’t drive the box office the way it used to.  Or maybe it never did really drive the box office that way, it was just an illusion.  If you look at the heyday of valuable star films, per screen not just the total box office that is artificially inflated by screen count, they are twice as big, or even 3 times as big as what Race 3 did.  Chennai Express, 3 Idiots, Dabangg, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, these were movies that got people in the door thanks to the names on the posters, but kept them coming back because they were high quality.

(Yes, even Chennai Express.  That is a great soundtrack, memorable dialogue, and two good central performances surrounded by experienced character actors)

The star names used to be a guarantee of a certain level of quality.  Sure, maybe the plot was still ridiculous, but the dialogue would be fun with lots of one liners, the songs would be spectacular, the rest of the cast would be mindblowing, and there would be that certain extra level of charisma that only a major star can bring.

And now we have Race 3.  There’s Salman, and surrounding him are a bunch of has-beens and never-weres (cruel, but true).  The soundtrack is a joke, truly terrible music.  Matched by equally terrible visuals.  There is not one line of dialogue I can remember.  And that is on top of one of the most ridiculous plots I have ever seen.

Race 3 is the culmination of a long slide for Salman.  I keep going back to Bajrangi Bhaijaan because it is the last time I can remember a truly great Salman film.  Great role for him, great story, great dialogue, great songs, great cast, everything falling into place.  And then Sultan was enjoyable, but just not quite as good.  I don’t find myself listening to the soundtrack over and over again, or referring back to the song videos.  I remember enjoying the dialogue at the time, but can’t remember it now.  Same with everything really, performances were good and so on and so on, but they didn’t leave any impression.  Prem Ratan Dhan Payo was good, but no where near as good as his previous Sooraj Barjatya films.  That’s what I thought at the first, and then thought “no, that’s just nostalgia”, but then I rewatched them and even Hum Saath Saath Hain has something PRDP is just missing.  Tubelight was a disaster in every way.  Okay, the soundtrack was decent.  But everything else was terrible.  Tiger Zinda Hai was a good movie, but it wasn’t what I think of as a “star” movie, only two songs and none of the sort of fun over the topness that a big star film used to promise.

(I listen to this song at least once a week.  I can’t remember the last time I listened to a song from Sultan or PRDP)

And now we have Race 3.  Unlike Tiger Zinda Hai or Tubelight, Race 3 had the possibility of being a big star film.  It wasn’t some serious geopolitical drama semi based on a true story.  It was big and fun and silly with lots of space for great songs and great star entries and great one lines.  And it just wasn’t there.

Race 3 is doing much much much much better than Tubelight, which tells me that the audience right now wants that old-fashioned big star film again.  But it is not doing as well as Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which is telling me that the audience didn’t feel they found that big star film in this.


So, where are they finding it?  Let us turn our eyes to Veere Di Wedding in week 3 and Raazi in week 6.  Veere is making $2,250 per screen in America, Raazi is making $1,250 in week 6.  I don’t think Sultan was even in theaters in week 6 and I doubt that Race 3 will be either.  Veere and Raazi, the female lead films, are the ones giving the audience what they want.

Alia and the Veere gang are in the perfect place to do that.  They are young and hungry and they want to be considered superstars, just like they men are.  So they are going to pick big fun crowdpleasing scripts, not the more artistic female lead things that the last generation of female stars went for.  No Piku, no Pari, nothing that would be off-putting or unwelcoming.  And they are going to give it their all, the best songs and the best performances and the best acting.

(I love Piku, but it’s not the big fun star lead film you want to see with your family on Eid)

At the same time, thanks to the slow slide of the male stars (not just the 3 Khans, but Ranbir and Varun and Shahid and everyone else), the female stars have been shining brighter and brighter, bright enough to actually be noticed.  Alia’s name can bring in an audience now.  Not as much as Salman’s, but more than an actress used to be able to do.  And so the audience is beginning to learn that if they want that well-made fun kind of a film, it is a better bet to look to the female stars than male.  And the female stars are paying off that trust by bringing more consistent all around crowd pleasers than the male stars.  I’ll be watching closely how this develops, if Gully Boy is promoted on Alia’s name as much as Ranveer’s, if The Zoya Factor gets a slightly larger release than expected.  And if Dabangg 3 gets a smaller one.


15 thoughts on “Box Office: Race 3 Loses the Race

    • Or, more accurately, the very recent trend of box office mega hits being limited to male oriented pictures is being revealed as false. Remember, biggest box office of all time, still Gone With The Wind.

      On Mon, Jun 18, 2018 at 7:02 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



  1. Bollywood Hungama

    Verified account

    19h19 hours ago
    #BoxOffice @BeingSalmanKhan ‘s #Race3 scores a CENTURY… Crosses 💯 cr… Fourth Salman starrer to collect ₹ 100 cr mark in *3 days* [#BajrangiBhaijaan, #Sultan, #TigerZindaHai]..


    • THanks! I’ve been seeing the good numbers coming in for India, but I’ll be curious to see where it lands next week, after the holiday. And especially the week after next, when Sanju is out in competition. I really don’t know if Sanju will steal Race 3 audience, or if they will be so different that it won’t matter.

      On Mon, Jun 18, 2018 at 7:09 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Box Office: Race 3 Loses the Race — dontcallitbollywood – Business Startup-Bay Area

    • That was my experience too! It’s not just a “woman’s picture”, and more than just women turned out for it.

      On Mon, Jun 18, 2018 at 7:17 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  3. Salman has wasted two Eids now. I hope next Eid some other movie clashes with his so that the audience gets an alternative they can watch on a big holiday. The lack of choices sucks for the audience.


    • I think you may get your wish. Last year there was nothing released even close to Eid, this year Veere Di Wedding was brave enough to come out 2 weeks before, and Sanju 2 weeks after. So they are getting closer, next year I wouldn’t be surprised if something releases just a week before and after, and then the year after that on the same day.

      Or, he could decide to give up Eid to someone else like he did a few years back.


  4. The Indian producers mainly care about domestic collections. World wide Collection are a secondary thing.

    In all the trade done by taran adarsh he specifies Indian numbers only and sometimes worldwide as a subscript if its anything decent.

    Ramesh taurani will care what he got from mumbai/gujrat etc rather than an number from Germany /us /uk


    • The problem is, I have no access to what he got from Gujurat. Sure there are reports, but they aren’t reliable, and they almost never break it down by screen count so I can figure out the per screen. So I have to sort of work backwards. Usually Canada and Australia match with the northern markets, the US and UK more with the urban areas. So if this is how it is doing per screen in those places, I am guessing it isn’t as good as it could be in most places in India either. Except, maybe, for that same holiday bump and there not being another option for an Eid movie.


      • Apparently, Race 3 has crashed badly in India too. PR will try to salvage it based on the first 3 days but the numbers are abysmal for a franchise film releasing wide on a big holiday without a clashing competing film either. People would have watched pretty much anything releasing at that time with no alternative available.

        Salman has already booked next Eid with Bharat. Good god, spare us. He is making so many films that I expect him to book Diwali and Christmas too. (kidding. maybe.) The only good thing I can see from this is that there won’t be any big dates left for any other film so they will be forced to clash. Just do it and please end this nonsense. We deserve better.


        • Oh right, Bharat! Which looks like another Tubelight to me. Ali Abbas Zafar just has not impressed me as a director, beyond an ability to stay on the good side of Salman. And the long time period means Salman trying to play young again, which is never a good idea. Plus, sooooooooooooo sincere in the message and everything, also not usually good with Salman unless there is a little lightness interjected, and I have no faith in this production team to interject that.

          Most of all, Bharat is the one he is supposed to be filming double with Dabangg 3. These are going to be two totally different films and totally different characters! How can he possibly build the sort of deep character necessary for Bharat while switching to Dabangg at the same time? Even PRDP he talked about needing to take some time and talk with Sooraj and get back in the “Prem” mindset, and that can’t possibly be half as complicated as the Bharat role will be.

          Thank goodness Zero took Christmas and Thugs took Diwali (I think). I have minimal faith in either of those movies working out, but it does save us from Salman domination and audience exhaustion.


          • Bharat reminds me of Tubelight too. Ali Abbas Zafar is hardly that talented and on top of that, it’s a remake of a Korean movie about Korean history. How do they expect to adapt it to India?! It means wholesale changes and there just isn’t enough talent there to do that. I’ve also heard it’s a movie (no idea how accurate that is considering how bad the BW media is) that Salman watched and wanted to remake which gives even worse vibes. Salman is his own worst enemy. Any movie where he has any sort of involvement outside of acting is already on shaky ground. To make matters worse, it spans a long time period and one of those has Disha Patani playing his love interest! She looks a lot younger than even the likes of Anushka. Why would anyone do this? There has to be at least some kind of limit with these types of age differences.

            At this point, with Salman’s body, I actually think action movies are easier to do than dramas. At least with movies like Race 3, they can use body doubles for a lot of sequences. How can you do that with other types of movies? The unwieldy aging body and lack of agility is very visible.

            Salman is not that bad an actor as people say, especially when he wants to act. Surely he could do a smaller movie where he plays an older man that would fit with how his face and body look now. It would be so much better for him and the audience too instead of what he’s currently doing.


          • I think Salman really has to learn to let go and let the director lead. It would help with so many issues, to have an outsider figure out how best to use him, what kind of cast to surround him with, and help ease his performance.

            His last few films have just not had that magic, and I think it is because he purposely picked weak directors who wouldn’t challenge him. Ek Tha Tiger, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, PRDP, all strong directors with clear visions. Even Dabangg versus Dabangg 2 shows that difference. But for whatever reason he just isn’t willing to work with strong directors any more.


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