Bad week all around! Sanju is slowing way way down, Dhadak is not a hit (no matter what everyone is saying), and Soorma is a big flop. Bad week to own a movie theater.
Dhadak made $3,145 per screen on 99 screens in America. $3,392 per screen on 2 screens in Canada. $1,617 per screen on 67 screens in the UK. $3,269 per screen on 34 screens in Australia. $5,434 per screen on 16 screens in New Zealand. $3,265 per screen on 9 screens in Malaysia. $665 per screen on 24 screens in Germany.
What I am seeing in headlines elsewhere is that the film is breaking records for a movie with two newcomers. But, what does that really mean? What it really means is that it is doing well for a small film.
And it is! Those same figures, if I were seeing them for Running Shaadi or Qarib Qarib Singlle, I would say “yeah, that’s a solid film”. It’s figures like this, or actually a little better, that helped Varun break out after Humpty Sharma. It’s not about the big splashy hit, it’s about doing considerably better than would be expected based on all the components of the film, which indicates that the star might have something special.
But, is Dhadak really a small film? For one thing, it got a clear release. No competition the week it came out, or the next week. Even the week before, just Soorma being dumped out without much expectation. And Dhadak got massive publicity from elements besides the stars. Karan and his minions at the studio pushed it hard, it’s a remake of a known property, and it had the hit song from the original film. Not really an out of nowhere hit.
And of course Jhanvi and Ishaan aren’t exactly “newcomers”. We have known their faces and names for years. Compare it with Alia and Varun, who were also industry kids, but were raised out of the spotlight, needed to introduce themselves to us in their first film because we’d never heard of them before. Not the case with Jhanvi and Ishaan.
(Yes, even Ishaan, there were plenty of cute brother photos, he was around, people knew about him, the public knew about him)
One thing that strikes me about the figures is how few screens this released on. Part of that is because Sanju is still being a bit of a screen vampire, sucking them all dry. But it’s also a cautious strategy. If you have a lot of screens, it drives up profits. But eventually it also becomes very obvious that this is a flop film, as theaters turn into ghost towns. And based on the tepid box office even on limited screens, releasing it bigger would have turned into a complete disaster.
And then there are the two countries were it did get a big release, the UK and Germany. I know why, those are the two countries were K3G and KANK and MNIK and even ADHM did spectacular. Dharma has those figures, it can look at them and think “these are the markets for a love story”. A Dharma love story, the brand should have value there. Only, it didn’t work. If I am a Dharma bean counter, I am going to look at those two markets first and realize that either this film didn’t work, or these stars didn’t have what it took, or these markets have moved on from romantic drama and want something else and I had better deliver.
But will anyone really be looking at these figures? Jhanvi and Ishaan proved that they aren’t complete disasters (unlike Sooraj Pancholi or Pratiek Patil or Harman Barweja whose first films were such total disasters that their careers as leading men petered out pretty quickly), and that’s all that’s necessary to make sure they get another film and another one and another one. Unless of course the financial managers at some studio manages to shake some sense into their boss and point out that Dharma is most likely going to end up taking a loss on this one.
(Amy Jackson rebounded after this, because it wasn’t her movie. But we all knew it was supposed to be Prateik’s break out role and then it just wasn’t)
That’s Dhadak, the big story. Let’s look at the left over stories from previous weeks. Sanju is now in week 4, and STILL on over 100 screens in America. 112 actually. And making $1,341 per screen. Which is really good for week 4, especially on that many screens. But the problem is, you can’t keep a theater going on only $1,341 per screen. There has to be 2 little movies making that much, 2 medium movies making as much as Dhadak, and 1 big big big big hit. And this week, there is just Dhadak being medium, Sanju being little, and everything else just being a massive flop. Oh, and Soorma in week two is on 50 screens and only making $712 per screen.
So, there’s a combination of elements. Sanju, the big big hit, is being slow to leave the party and open up some more screens. Which makes any other potential hit reluctant to release right now. Soorma was a loser and released with the cover of Sanju. Dhadak isn’t doing as well as expected and also scared off any other release. And the end result is a bad bad week at the box office.
(Despite an awesome song)
It’s also just the calendar. Eid was way back in June, Independence Day isn’t until August, so July is in this odd position of not having a reason for a big release. This is the time last year that Mubarakan came out and surprised us all by being a hit, just because it was a big fresh fun movie in the middle of the summer duldrums. There is nothing this week that has that potential, but it’s possible that Fanney Khan next week will fill that gap, give us something a little fun and different to get us through the last bit of summer and up to the Fall holidays and a new major release every week.