Sultan opens to tepid response in China
New Delhi: Salman Khan’s blockbuster Sultan has opened to unimpressive numbers in China, considered a rapidly growing market for Bollywood films. The film, the first Yash Raj Films production to be taken to the neighbouring country clocked $940,000 (Rs 6.66 crore) from 10,000 screens and 36,000 screenings on its opening day. Khan’s last release in China, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, had made $2.25 million on its opening day. Sultan had made Rs. 300.45 crore on its release in India in 2016.
The highest Indian film openers in China to date include Aamir Khan’s Secret Superstar ($6.8 million) and Irrfan Khan-starrer Hindi Medium ($3.3 million).
“Sultan, Salman Khan’s second film and Yash Raj’s first to release in China, does not live up to the monumental expectations. Had a disappointing Day 1 in China,” trade analyst Taran Adarsh tweeted.
Movie trade website Box Office India said Sultan’s primarily commercial tone with limited appeal for female audience was responsible for its slow start in China. The country prefers content-driven films high on emotion that resonate with women.
To be sure, Bollywood’s success story in China, so far, has been driven single-handedly by Aamir Khan-starrers. While his sports drama Dangal, currently the highest-grossing Indian film in China, had made close to Rs 1,200 crore, his musical production Secret Superstar earned around Rs 760 crore. Other superhits include PK (Rs 123 crore) and 3 Idiots (Rs. 16 crore), which Khan had promoted in the country personally.
The massive screen count is a huge factor for the long list of Indian films that have broken ground in China, according to industry experts. The country almost quadrupled its screen count in the last few years, from around 10,000. India, on the other hand, works with 9,000-odd cinemas divided between single screens and multiplexes.
The second big factor contributing to the sky-high collections is likely to be the difference in ticket rates. The average ticket price in China is $12 compared with India’s $1.5. Since time immemorial though, the focus on local production remains and foreign film quota is still restricted to around 30 a year, divided between Hollywood and products from other industries.
But most importantly, Indian stories with their strong emotional connect have resonated with Chinese audience, who are used to either Hollywood spectacles or Chinese mythologies and fantasies. Be it Dangal with its women empowerment theme or Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which is a human tale, subjects that worked in the country were always been high on realism and emotion.