New Delhi: A year after his previous Eid blockbuster Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Salman Khan struck gold at the box-office yet again last month. Khan’s wrestling film Sultan, directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, is yet to cross the 320 crore mark set by the Kabir Khan-directed film but it is inching close with net box office collections of about 296.86 crore since its release.

“The combination of Salman Khan and Eid always works wonders but it is the content that speaks after the initial opening," said Rajendar Singh, vice-president, programming and distribution, INOX Leisure Ltd. “And in this case, it did hold up well."

Singh, however, added that last month paled in comparison to last year when along with Bajrangi Bhaijaan, S.S. Rajamouli’s war epic Baahubali: The Beginning shattered all records, making more than 500 crore worldwide. On the regional front, Rajinikanth-starrer Kabali hit the screens with an outstanding opening weekend of 110 crore and is still going strong, especially in the south, but as Singh puts it, Kabali is no Baahubali. The film had grossed about 40crore at the end of its first week in north Indian markets. While it’s too early to comment on its overall business, Girish Johar, head of global revenue, Zee Studios, said the film should ultimately fall within the average-plus box office zone.

The only other Hindi film that seems to have made a mark this month is John Abraham and Varun Dhawan’s action comedy Dishoom, which opened to 37.32 crore last weekend. Other Bollywood releases—sex comedy Great Grand Masti with 13.52 crore and Irrfan Khan-starrer Madaari with 14 crore—sank without a trace.

“Madaari was liked and appreciated by a certain section of the audience but the box office performance remained below par," Johar said. “With Great Grand Masti, it could have to do with the online leak a couple of weeks before release but people just didn’t come out to watch it."

While Punjabi film Bambukat has opened to an impressive 1.38 crore in the north Indian state, besides an additional 1.22 crore in Australia, even most Hollywood releases couldn’t brave the Sultan onslaught. Science fiction film Star Trek Beyond, animation movie Ice Age: Collision Course, supernatural comedy Ghostbusters and Steven Spielberg’s fantasy adventure The BFG all struggled to save face at the box office.

To be sure, there is much to look forward in August. American films Suicide Squad and Jason Bourne rank high, and there is much expectation from romantic comedy Happy Bhag Jayegi and Tiger Shroff’s superhero action film A Flying Jatt. The stage, however, is set for the bigger clash on Independence Day weekend between Hrithik Roshan’s period drama Mohenjo Daro, directed by Ashtosh Gowariker, and Akshay Kumar-starrer Rustom. This is the first high-profile Bollywood clash since Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bajirao Mastani and Shah Rukh Khan’s Dilwale last December. Trade analysts, however, see little reason to worry.

“Both films look promising though it all eventually boils down to content," said trade analyst Taran Adarsh. “If the audience gives its mandate, two films can co-exist."

All figures have been sourced from movie website Bollywood Hungama.

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