‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ disappoints on opening weekend
New Delhi: Deepika Padukone’s Hollywood debut xXx: Return of Xander Cage may be still awaiting its global premiere on 20 January, but the film is not really off to the flying start it may have expected in India last weekend. The Vin Diesel-starrer collected about Rs15.85 crore over the weekend, according to trade analyst Komal Nahta, a figure trade experts call above average at best.
“The film could definitely have started on a better note,” said Atul Mohan, editor of trade magazine Complete Cinema. “xXx is a huge franchise and was released first in India, way before the rest of the world. Plus, as is known, films do maximum business within the first three days.”
Padukone’s presence was expected to bolster the film’s prospects substantially considering the huge fan following she commands in India, Mohan added. Viacom18 Motion Pictures, which is marketing and distributing the action flick in the country, as part of its partnership with producers Paramount Pictures, had carried on an exhaustive promotional campaign that included getting Diesel to fly down to India for a grand premiere.
The rapidly evolving market for Hollywood films in India makes the xXx numbers appear even smaller. Last year, Disney’s fantasy adventure The Jungle Book made Rs40.47 crore over its opening weekend, while Marvel’s superhero film Captain America: Civil War earned Rs27.13 crore within the first three days. Diesel’s own release, Fast and Furious 7, had set a record in 2015, making a huge Rs70 crore over a four-day extended weekend.
To be fair, there was more than one factor not working to xXx’s advantage. While the first few shows only officially began towards Friday evening, the producers couldn’t manage to get the Telugu dubbed version censored in time, as a result of which only the English, Hindi and Tamil versions ended up releasing.
Besides, the festive Pongal weekend was dominated by regional movies. Chiranjeevi’s comeback vehicle, Telugu-language action drama Khaidi No. 150 grossed Rs106 crore worldwide, while Vijay’s Tamil actioner Bairavaa raked in about Rs86 crore, according to news reports.
“That has hit them quite hard since the south comprises the second-largest market for Hollywood in India,” said film trade and business expert Girish Johar.
However, there is still hope.
“The wider 2D release this coming Friday should bring in 500 more cinemas and help capture the tier-two markets besides bringing ticket prices down,” said Utpal Acharya, founder of film production, distribution and marketing company Indian Film Studios. “There is much hype around the film and I think especially the youth will be drawn.”