Global Box Office: Uri Rises!!!! And, also Varun Tej!

Huh! Really interesting week. The global markets are very unaligned, which is always worth a discussion. (as always, figures from bollywoodhungama)

Let’s start with Uri! American market is ridiculously good. 93 screens in week 2, that alone is very very good for a non-star film. But each screen is making $6,500, which is the best per screen average we may have seen this year. Meanwhile in Canada, $6,000 per screen on 20 screens. That’s about the same meaning in terms of screen count, but not nearly as good with the per-screen because Canadian tickets and per screens are higher on average than American. 20 screens in Australia, $8,600 per screen. Which is somewhere between Canada and America, that’s very good for second week but not the best I’ve seen from Australia in a year. But still a little better than Canada. And then there’s New Zealand, a funny one, only $3,700 per screen on 10 screens, pretty average for a week 2. And the UK, 18 screens (not great) and only $1,800 per screen. Slightly above average for a UK 2 week, but not much, especially considering the low screen count.

Image result for uri poster
You know what is weirdest about this? Vicky is benefiting from the attack directly, because if it weren’t for Uri, Fawad would still be Karan’s chosen mentee for art films

So, what do we have? Americans love Uri more than anything else they have seen in months and months, like it enough to see it again and again and recommend it to everyone they know. Canadians and Australians are okay with it. New Zealanders don’t much like it and neither do the Brits.

This big of a gap is not that unusual, but it is when we are talking about this high of a box office. If a film is record breaking popular in America, I would expect it to be the same everywhere in the world. If it is average in America, then I would see it as below or above average everywhere else in a varied pattern. So there is something about this movie that the Indian-American audience loves to the point of distraction, while everyone else thinks it is either pretty good (Canada, Australia) or just okay (UK, New Zealand).

But, why? The obvious answer is the flagwaving patriotism which tends to sell better in the Indian-American audience than elsewhere. Maybe because they are a newer community (thanks to America’s racist immigration policies) and therefore less integrated and more clinging to their previous national identity? Maybe it is because America in general has a culture susceptible to flagwaving patriotism? Maybe it is just the physical distance, being so very very far away from India makes it easier to idealize?

Image result for vishva hindu parishad america
Maybe it’s because the VHP is super strong here? Or is the VHP super strong for those other reasons?

I haven’t seen the movie, but the flagwaving patriotism is all I can think of to appeal to this degree only to part of the audience. I understand it is a very high quality well-made film, but if that were the only appeal, it should be doing as well or better in Canada and Australia versus America. Canada and Australia are typically much better markets for action movies. And there isn’t the star power that would make a difference either, Shahrukh typically has a better following in America than Australia, while Akshay does better in Australia. But Vicky Kaushal? I don’t think he has a following anywhere, it’s not going to make a difference in the box office at this level. So I am left with patriotism. It’s the only thing in the film that could match this pattern. Good sign for the movies this week, which both look of terrible quality, but will appeal straight to the right-winger NRI market.

Moving on to happier topics, F2-Fun and Frustration! A Telugu silly comedy about husband’s and wives. Which is doing remarkably well. $3,800 per screen in America on 132 screens. Which is high on screen count and per screen for a Telugu film with no stars. And then there’s Australia, only 9 screens but $14,000 per screen! Only 3 screens in New Zealand, but $3,500 per screen. It’s not amazing in America, but if you add the per screen to the screen count, that’s pretty good. Australia is shockingly good, maybe the best per screen a Telugu has ever had. New Zealand is just so-so. It’s mostly benefiting from the surprise failure of the NTR film, nothing else is coming out because that was supposed to be a hit and F2 ended up filling the gap. But it’s still impressive, Telugu is now making in roads following Tamil, which was following Punjabi. And it is a sign that there is a proportion of the audience, even in America, that would far rather escape into a silly comedy than into violence.

Maybe everyone is in love with Varun Tej?

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10 thoughts on “Global Box Office: Uri Rises!!!! And, also Varun Tej!

  1. What about the long weekend in the US? As far as I know, the other markets don’t have a holiday weekend just now. Could the double whammy of school/office closed + near Republic Day be enough to make Uri a bigger hit here than elsewhere?

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    • Oh! Yes!!! That is entirely possible! These figures wouldn’t include Monday, but they would include the late night Sunday shows that might have had a better turn out because of the holiday.

      On the other hand, I had such a nice theory all worked out, why do you want to ruin it?

      On Tue, Jan 22, 2019 at 10:10 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. There isn’t a single chest thumping/flag waving moment in Uri. It has a heartbreaking first half, and action based second half. Maybe America likes action more than the other countries?

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    • That’s possible, but would be a break from the established pattern. Usually Canada and Australia are better markets for action films than America. But America has a history of leaning towards the patriotic films.

      On Wed, Jan 23, 2019 at 1:08 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. I agree with your point, American Indians are less assimilated. This is primarily because it takes typically between 2 to 6 years for Indians (or people from any country) to get “Permanent Residency” (which is like 80% Citizenship) in Australia, Canada and even for non Indians in US.

    But many Indians who come in 2004 to US, are still waiting for that Green Card (Permanent Residency) and those who came post 2010 are expecting atleast 30 year long wait ( For more indepth understanding read about bill HR392 or watch the Indian English movie “For Here or To Go” for the lite version).

    So basically the huge group of Indians waiting for Green Card means they unlike prior groups of immigrants or those in other countries, are very connected to their homeland, since they always need to be ready to assimilate back to India if they lose their job, this group invests more back home than they would otherwise, trains their kids in Indian cultural aspects more and such.

    While this big group waiting in citizenship limbo has been bad (constraining) for those people, its great for India, a unique set of Educated & internationally trained Ambassadors for the country, they have helped widen the market for Indian movies amongst other things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that makes some sense. I think the same kind of things when watching movies set among the desi community in the middle east, where often it is just the wage earning man of the household who is living overseas, and even if the whole family is there, they are there without citizenship or rights as part of the community. It was especially striking in Airlift.

      Of course, there are concerns about HR392, I would prefer for there to be more funding and transparency in the entire immigration system and speed up the process for everyone, rather than a bill which primarily would help skilled Indian immigrants only, but it is a fair point.

      On Wed, Jan 23, 2019 at 1:36 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Ideal is the opposite of the efficient. One can hope for everything and avoid the realistic & efficient.

        The bill helps those (Indians & Chinese) who are in a waiting list that’s greater than 10 years long, when others have less than 3 years typically.

        Trying make it faster for all while ideal, is more likely going to not help anyone.

        Then again this proves the point, this situation will continue for sometime and the Indians in America will probably be very Indianised like those in the middle East, when Urban Indians in India get even more westernised.

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  4. Heard that fahad fazil-sathyan anthikkadu movie ‘Njan prakashan’ became the highest grossing malayalam movie in USA surpassing Pulimurugan.

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    • Could be, this is week 4 and it is doing about $850 per screen, but on 20 screens. And it looks like it has been doing solid numbers for the past few weeks. That’s nothing for a Hindi, Tamil, or Telugu film but it is quite impressive for a Malayalam.

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