New Delhi: Going against the age-old norm of usually being a dull start to the year at the movies, January had some substantially good box office news to offer this time. Shah Rukh Khan’s gangster drama Raees and Hrithik Roshan’s revenge saga Kaabil, which clashed this Republic Day, have netted Rs109 crore and Rs85 crore, respectively.
“Traditionally January hasn’t been considered the best month at the box office but the last couple of years have been slowly changing that perception,” said film trade and business expert Girish Johar. Clearly, the month has been dominated by actor Akshay Kumar for a while, his war drama Airlift and spy thriller Baby minted Rs128 crore and Rs95 crore in domestic box-office collections when released in January 2016 and 2015, respectively.
This time too, Johar mentions that the combined box-office earnings of Raees and Kaabil should follow the legacy by crossing the Rs 200 crore mark. Other good news for Bollywood came with Aamir Khan-starrer Dangal emerging as the highest grossing Hindi film ever and spilling over into the new month from its Christmas release—the film has earned Rs385 crore on last count and is still running in theatres.
While Hindi releases like Ok Jaanu, Haraamkhor and Coffee With D logged unimpressive collections, Deepika Padukone’s Hollywood debut xXx: Return of Xander Cage only managed Rs15.85 crore in its opening weekend despite an early release in India. Industry experts say technical factors like releasing the film on a Saturday and targeting only the limited 3D screens in the country initially lowered enthusiasm levels for the film.
“Expectations from the film were quite high given Deepika Padukone’s presence and the success of Vin Diesel’s previous release Fast and Furious 7,” said Rajendar Singh, vice-president, programming and distribution, INOX Leisure Ltd. “But maybe audiences just didn’t find it up to the mark.”
Fast and Furious 7 was the first Hollywood film that crossed the Rs100 crore mark in India, making nearly Rs150 crore in 2015 in the country and was pretty much responsible for initiating the surge that Hollywood has seen in Indian box office in the past two years. Viacom18 Motion Pictures, which was marketing and distributing the xXx 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.
Competition also came from regional cinema, especially during the festive Pongal weekend. Among Telugu movies, epic historical action film Gautamiputra Satakarni earned Rs 60-70 crore while Chiranjeevi-starrer Khaidi No.150 has made more than Rs100 crore in collections in Andhra Pradesh alone. Tamil actioner Bairavaa, Kannada film Kirik Party and Marathi romantic drama Ti Saddhya Kay Karte were the other regional offerings that stood out.
To be sure, there is much to look forward to this coming month. Beginning with science fiction horror film, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter this week and Vishal Bharadwaj’s Rangoon, there is a lot vying for attention.
“From Jolly LLB 2 which looks very promising to The Ghazi Attack and Runningshaadi.com which seem quite different, it’s a promising slate,” Johar said.
All figures have been sourced from movie website Bollywood Hungama.