As James Cameron is currently enjoying another profitable weekend for Avatar: the Way of Water, the King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan, has returned to the screen for the first time in four years with Siddharth Anand‘s Pathaan. The film broke all sorts of records in India, and became highest-grossing opening weekend in the history of Hindi cinema, accumulating a shattering $38.4 million worldwide, with a $13.7 million overseas tally.
In North America, the fourth installment of the YRF Spy Universe made $5.9 million in only 695 theatres! And even if it couldn’t topple the bigger American films in its way, the movie still managed to draw a certain buzz amongst moviegoers who were curious to see what Shah Rukh Khan had in store for audiences inside a vibrant, 146-minute high-octane action ride. In my time covering significant Indian films that cross over North America, I’ve only seen theatres in my area selling out for RRR and Pathaan.
And unlike Avatar: The Way of Water or Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Pathaan isn’t making a ton of money because it’s the fourth installment of a series of films, but solely because Shah Rukh Khan is attached to the project as a lead actor. The King has made some fairly bad movies before his hiatus, but even that couldn’t prevent audiences from flooding theatres and cheering at the sight of their idol. Has a major star of a Hollywood ever sell out cinemas worldwide in the past ten years with the sole driver of audience engagement being a specific actor?
Some will say Tom Cruise with Top Gun: Maverick. Sure, but the movie was a highly-anticipated sequel of an extremely popular film. Add with the fact that it got delayed a plethora of times due to COVID, and you’ve got a recipe for success. In a “post-pandemic world,” there hasn’t been a movie in which the star drove audiences to see it. I can’t name one. But Pathaan is flooding every possible theater in every corner of India because audiences have longed for SRK to come back and reclaim his throne as the King of Bollywood, and it looks like it has paid off for him quite significantly.
As for other films released this weekend, Brandon Cronenberg’s Infinity Pool barely made an impact, cumulating a meager $2.7 million in 1,835 theatres. The overall reception of the movie seemed mixed, and perhaps too cerebral for mainstream audiences to want to venture into. And surprisingly, Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist finished ninth with a $2.3 million tally in its Fathom Events screenings. I mean, I shouldn’t be surprised, since the Christian market is huge in the United States, but c’mon, did you see that trailer? Who would seriously think it would be worth seeing? Oh well…
Here are the full list of the top 10 films of the week:
- Avatar: The Way of Water (Disney): $15.7M (-22%) – 3,600 theatres
- Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (Universal): $10.6M (-10%) – 3,452 theatres
- A Man Called Otto (Sony): $6.7M (-23.3%) – 3,957 theatres
- M3GAN (Universal): $6.3M (-34.4%) – 3,416 theatres
- Pathaan (Yash Raj Films): $5.9M – 695 theatres
- Missing (Sony): $5.6M (-38%) – 3,025 theatres
- Plane (Lionsgate): $3.8M (-27.6%) – 2,850 theatres
- Infinity Pool (NEON): $2.7M – 1,835 theatres
- Left Behind: Rise of the Antichrist (Fathom Events): $2.3M – 1,405 theatres
- The Wandering Earth II (Well Go USA Entertainment): $1.3M – 142 theatres
Source: Box Office Mojo