I finally got the box office post up! Much later than usual, but at least I did it.
Not a good week! Luckily there is a midweek release, Gold and Satyamev Jayate. Unlikely, that will have minimal effect on the international market since it’s middle of the week and there is no holiday (except in India). This is why Christmas and Eid are in such high demand, truly global holidays resulting in days off work/school all over the world. But I am getting ahead of myself a little, that’s for next week.
Although it’s kind of for this week too. This week the big release was Vishwaroopam II. But, and I don’t know why I didn’t think about this before, the release date kind of tells the story of the confidence the makers had in this movie. Why would you release a film the Friday before a midweek Independence Day? Knowing both that there are sure to be other major films coming out and taking screens just a few days later, and if you just waited a few days, you film could have a much better release? The only reason to do it would be if you were hoping to skate by without being noticed, to hide an unremarkable box office.
And this is, indeed, unremarkable. I think. I need to give a big BIG disclaimer here, because often southern films are released through non-traditional distributors in some overseas markets. Like, Great Indian Films, which also organizes ethnic festivals and events and stuff. A non-traditional distributor won’t care about the box office tallying agencies and won’t bother sending in their figures. What I have seen before with Bahubali II, for instance, is that the Hindi version was distributed by a regular Indian distributor who did share figures, but the other languages were not and there were no figures available. So I have no sense if the figures I am seeing are for the Hindi (or another version) only, or for all versions of Vishwaroopam II.
With all of that in mind, let me start with America. Traditionally the best market for Tamil and Telugu films. Vishwaroopam II released on only 32 screens, 10% of what Sanju got. And it made less than $500 per screen. Which is pretty much the lowest I have seen this year. A flop of flops, a massive disaster.
Canada was even worse, 9 screens, and about $300 per screen. And that’s in Canada, where ticket prices are higher. UK had the largest number of screens, 60 (which is part of why I suspect I’m not seeing full figures for America, it makes no sense to have half as many screens in the US as in England). And a higher box office, almost $60,000 and almost $1,000 per screen. Australia was decent too, 42 screens and $2,500 per screen. Although per screen the new Punjabi release, Dakuaan Da Munda, made more money, just on fewer screens, 24 to 42. This is kind of a similar pattern to Mersal, did well in the US, but shockingly well in the UK and Australia.
As for what happened to this film which, just a few months back, was looking very promising? I have 3 theories, and it is probably a combination of them all:
- Theaters simply underreport/don’t report in certain markets for major southern films, because the major films will be snapped up by speculative fly by night distributors who don’t understand the importance of reporting box office. There is an artificial difference between UK, Australia, US, and Canada just because of this reporting.
- It’s simply a bad movie. A promising idea, action film franchise starring a popular star with solid action, was ruined in the execution. The filmmakers and distributors realized it, and that is why the screen count is so low and the release so close to Independence Day.
- There is something about national moods. While action and patriotism may sell in Australia still, it is not the right time for them in North America.
In other news, Koode is doing very well in week 2, still on 18 theaters (which is a massive number for a Malayalam film) and making almost $1,000 per screen (which is also a massive number for a Malayalam film). Of last week’s movies, Karwaan is doing best per screen ($1,500) but Fanney Khan is on more screens (25 to 10). So, it shows that distributors are still betting on star films while the audience is just as likely to go for a decent film with an unknown lead versus a bad film with known leads. Mulk is holding on, making slightly less than $1,000 per screen, which is still better than Fanney Khan per screen and far better than Vishwaroopam II.
Oh, and Srinivasa Kalyanam is a disaster, $1,000 per screen in the first weekend when ticket prices are the highest, on 113 screens (which makes me think the distributors aren’t holding back on this one). Goodacheri in week 2 is doing far better, over $2,000 per screen on only 65 screens.
(Goodacheri, also with a lessor known star)