In a recent Showbiz In India report, I wrote about Chennai Express, the Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone-starrer that was tipped to hit it big over the August 9 Eid al Fitr holiday. Now with its first weekend behind it, the film has left a trail of broken records both in India and abroad. On Sunday, Rohit Shetty’s love story cum road movie became the fastest local film ever to break the 1B rupee mark, earning 1.042B rupees ($17.07M) in four days, including $1.1M in paid previews. Previews set an all-time record as did Day 1 and Day 2 takings which were $5.42M and $4.6M, respectively. Hailing from Disney’s UTV, Chennai Express bested the company’s own Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani as India’s most successful film of 2013 thus far. When Yeh Jawaani was released in the U.S. earlier this year, it broke into the Top 10 with $1.3M. Although Chennai Express opened Stateside at No. 13 this past weekend, it outperformed Yeh Jawaani with a $2.225M gross on 196 screens. That makes it the biggest Bollywood opener of all time in the U.S., besting 2010’s My Name Is Khan. Apart from its key holiday weekend positioning, Chennai Express also boasts two of the biggest Indian stars for U.S.-based audiences. Khan starred in My Name Is Khan; he and Padukone led the No. 3 highest Indian grosser ever in the U.S., Om Shanti Om; and Khan was in the No. 4 and 5 biggest Stateside hits, Don 2 and Ra.One.
Other international benchmarks for the film include the UK where Bollywood Hungama reports Chennai sold £258,598 worth of tickets on Friday to score the biggest opening day ever for a Hindi title there. In total, it took £934,118 in the UK and Ireland over the weekend. It was also the biggest Hindi opener ever in Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. Other rollouts included Peru, Norway, New Zealand and Australia. In total, the movie scored about $8.25M outside India. It’s expected to continue perform strongly this week at home: India’s national Independence Day holiday falls on Thursday.