Huh. I am seeing all these stories about how wonderful Stree is doing in the Indian market, and I am just not seeing that in the overseas market. Interesting, we don’t usually get such a strong divide. (as always, figures from Bollywoodhungama)
Let’s start with America. Stree was the top desi film of the weekend, on only 60 screens. That sounds impressive, but the thing is, 60 screens really is not that much. It shows that the distributors didn’t have much faith in it. And the per screen average shows that they were correct, only about $2,800 per screen. Which is decent for a low budget kind of art film, but this isn’t quite that. It’s not a big budget star film, but it’s definitely somewhere above an art film. Geetha Govindam in week 3 did about the same per screen ($2,200) and had about the same number of screens (56).
Stree did about the same in Canada in Canada, opening opposite a Punjabi film and only getting 8 screens and $3,200 per screen versus the Punjabi film Mar Gaye Oye Loko getting 20 screens and $7,000 per screen. In the UK it was crushed by screen count by Yamla Pagla Deewana Phir Se (38) and by per screen by the second week of the Pakistani film Jawani Phir Nahi Ani 2 ($1,600). Meanwhile Stree had only 11 screens and made only $1,500 per screen). In Australia it had the most screens of all desi releases, 21, which is still not the highest possible for the Australian market. And it made slightly better per screen than the leading competition, the Tamil film Imaikkaa Nodigal on 15 screens and $2,400 per screen to Stree‘s $2,600.
So, what is this saying? Stree‘s distributors had little faith, but still some faith. They gave it a barely decent release across the board (there have been films that were released on as little as 30 screens and only in a few countries). And they were right, Stree attracted a solid audience, but not a spectacular one. It brought in people who like Rajkummar Rao, like horror, like comedy, like Shraddha, like the trailer. And that’s enough to about half fill a theater, if you combine all those folks. The import thing is, all those elements are enough to actually get people in the door, they care enough about them to show up. Karwaan, another movie with a small release and niche stars, was able to bring in people who really really cared about Irrfan Khan. But the “contemplative internal journey” audience isn’t the type who rushes to see a movie in theaters, not like horror-comedy people who want to see it with a crowd, to bring friends along. This movie got the bump of the names, and the two genres that both appeal to a theater experience rather than a home one. And that was enough to make it a solid thump at the box office. Not quite a hit, but a definite thump.
What I am really curious is about next week. Because in India, Stree is doing very well. In a particular way I will explain in a moment. But a good Indian box office, in this particular way, can translate to a word of mouth that crosses oceans. If the Indian audience is able to see it, rushing to see it, they are going to tell their friends and family overseas, and come next weekend they will be rushing too. And the distributors and theater owners will be getting those messages too.
(So, NOT keeping quiet like Rajkummar is saying. Also, can Shraddha not aim her finger enough to hit her mouth? Should we worry about her?)
Now, HOW exactly is it doing well? Bollywoodhungama has a handy thing (here) that lists out the opening weekend, opening week, and total take for all the recent films for which they have data (which is not anywhere close to all the films, but it’s a starting point).
Let’s look at some other films for comparison. Happy Phir Bhaag Jayege, which should be about the same as Stree (no super big names, but known names, minor ad campaign, minor release), made 2.70 crore opening day, and 11.78 opening weekend, and that was considered as expected. Stree made 6.82 opening day and 31.26 opening weekend. Stree is obviously far far outstripping it, going way beyond expectations for this kind of film. But in terms of growth, it was the same percentage, both films made about 5 times over the whole weekend what they made in the first day.
Now let’s look at Gold. It was a major release on a holiday weekend and it made 25 crore opening night and 70 crore over the full weekend. But notice the drop off? The full weekend was slightly less than 3 times what opening night was alone. It couldn’t even hold steady through a full weekend. And sure enough in week 3, the lifetime total is only 103 crore. Almost the entire profit was in that first weekend alone.
(So, it is NOT, in fact, bringing home the gold)
Fanney Khan is another one with a drop off, 2.15 crore opening night, 7.15 opening weekend (only 3 times opening night, not 5) and a lifetime total of only 10 crore. But then there is Mulk, only made 1.68 crore opening night. But a total of 8.16 opening weekend, almost reaching that 5xs level. And the lifetime total was 20 crore, more than half the profit made AFTER opening weekend.
For most of the films on the list, the pattern is that opening day is 20-25% of the opening weekend total, and the opening weekend is 60% of the overall total. The disasters are the ones where the opening day is 30-40% of opening weekend and opening weekend is 70% or higher of the over all total.
Of course, the raw figures matter as well. But not as much. Gold opened very well, but thanks to the steep drop, the opening night figures are meaningless in the long run. Fanney Khan opened better than Mulk, but Mulk ended up making twice as much money by the end of its run.
(Wooo, Mulk! That promotional campaign was a disaster, I don’t even remember when this song launched. But I am glad it found an audience anyway)
The two big hits of the year, Padmaavat and Sanju, had very similar patterns. They followed they 5x’s pattern for opening day versus opening weekend, and by the end of the first week had made 60% of their profit. For all the talk about their success, they did not have much staying power.
There are quite a few films on the list that achieved 50% of their box office AFTER opening weekend. Veere Di Wedding, Mulk, 102 Not Out. The small solid performers overseas were holding steady in India as well. But there is only one film that achieved 75% of its profit AFTER week 1. Raazi, only made 7.53 crore on opening night, and 32.94 crore opening weekend. By the end of the first week it had made 56.59 crore. And by the end of its run, it made 123.84 crore.
Oh, there is one other with that pattern. Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety made 6.42 crore opening night, 26.57 crore opening weekend, 45.94 opening week, and a total life time take of 108.95.
Padmaavat and Sanju were major hits, with major releases and major ad campaigns and major budgets. Veere Di Wedding, Mulk, 102 Not Out and the others like them were word of mouth hits, they had their minor slice of the audience and that slice heard good things and came to see it in week 2 and 3 and 4, and then came back and saw it again.
Raazi and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, those were word of mouth BLOCKBUSTERS. The first weekend was bigger than expected, but it was week two and three that were the shockers. What I find interesting is that, in the international market, the first weekend was on the good end of expected, but it was the weeks 2 and 3 and 4 for these films that showed surprising staying power. The overseas and Indian divide was extremely present week 1, and then balanced out in later weeks.
(I will use any excuse to post one of these songs again)
So, this is the pattern I am expecting for Stree. A big opening at home and a small one overseas seems to indicate a long long run. The same big opening everywhere (like Padmavat, Sanju, and Gold all had) means it is driven by publicity that was dropped down everywhere the same. And it means that the best you can hope for is an average run and a steady drop after the first weekend. The same average opening everywhere means it could still pull off a steady growth in the next few weeks. But a big first weekend in India and a small one everywhere else means people are coming in based on word of mouth, word of mouth that hasn’t reached outside of India yet. And that word of mouth is just going to grow and grow and grow as time goes on, leading to a better second weekend than a first overseas, and a long long very profitable run.