New Delhi: Clearly, they saved the best for last. Salman Khan’s Tiger Zinda Hai, the last big Bollywood release of the year has not just brought relief to an ailing film industry but it also became the highest grosser among Hindi films on the opening weekend for the year 2017.

Tiger Zinda Hai, directed by Ali Abbas Zafar and released across 4,600 screens in India, recorded box office collections of Rs114.93 crore over the opening weekend, making it the highest opener of 2017 among Hindi films. War epic Baahubali 2: The Conclusion that had made Rs128 crore in April, was released across four languages—Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. At Rs93.24 crore and 87.60 crore respectively, Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees and Rohit Shetty-directed Golmaal Again too had good opening weekends this year.

The record for the highest opening weekend ever are held by Khan’s own Sultan (also directed by Zafar) and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo with collections of Rs180.36 crore and Rs129.77 crore, respectively. However, Sultan was a mid-week Eid release and had enjoyed a five-day extended weekend while Prem Ratan Dhan Payo was released during the festive Diwali season in 2015. Trade experts call Tiger Zinda Hai the highest grosser in a non-holiday weekend.

“The numbers speak for themselves. The fact that the film has grown over Saturday and Sunday compared to Friday shows that people have loved it," said Rajender Singh, vice president (programming and distribution) INOX Leisure Ltd. After opening day earnings of Rs34.10 crore, the film grew to Rs35.30 crore and Rs45.53 crore on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Singh said there is an inevitable drop on the second day if the film’s word-of-mouth and content don’t hold up.

To be sure, the holiday period starting mid-December extending to mid-January was traditionally considered dull for film business.

“That was until Aamir Khan changed the game and set a really high benchmark," said Atul Mohan, editor of trade magazine Complete Cinema. Aamir Khan’s Christmas releases have consistently soared at the box office in the past; opening weekend figures include Rs107.01 crore for Dangal (2016), Rs95.41 crore for PK (2014) and Rs107.61 crore for Dhoom 3 (2013). The three-day collections of Tiger Zinda Hai have outperformed them all.

“The Indian film market is very star-driven," said film trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar, who expects the film to close at Rs175 crore at the end of its first week. “Given the dry run at the box office lately and the fact that Khan is back to his comfort zone, the film had everything going for it."

With spectacular action, good songs and much emotion, Mohan said Khan, who appears in his trademark style this time, has made up for the dismal failure of his last release Tubelight that had only earned Rs119.26 crore in lifetime box office collections.

All figures have been sourced from movie website Bollywood Hungama.

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