Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan has reportedly moved his planned summer release Raees to January 2017. The step-off of the mega-lucrative July Eid holiday comes at a time when SRK’s latest film underperformed at the box office compared to his roster of major hits. But, most importantly, it sees him avoid a potentially calamitous clash with sometime pal/sometime rival Salman Khan who has Sultan debuting July 6 day-and-date in 30 markets.
There was already speculation last summer that either Khan would ultimately blink in the run-up to Eid. But SRK at the time told a Mumbai press conference that the dueling films didn’t represent a clash. “There are only 365 days, 54 Fridays. We make 200 films, it’s bound to happen that some films will release on the same Friday and most of the people involved in both these films are friends,” he said at the time. Now, however, a decision has been made to push crime drama Raees to January 26, 2017.
Per local media, SRK along with producers Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar released a statement saying, “It was not an easy decision to move the film. We understand that Raees is highly anticipated. However, a film of such magnitude requires the appropriate showcasing and therefore, we have decided to shift our release date to 26th January 2017.”
SRK, arguably the biggest global star coming out of Bollywood, has had a couple of hiccups in the past year. His Christmas release, Dilwale, was considered something of an underperformer, bowing to $9.8M at home in December for only his 5th highest opening ever in India. It was hobbled to some extent by competing pic, Bajirao Mastani, starring Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone. The result may have been a harbinger of today’s decision. But Dilwale also released in India a week ahead of Star Wars: The Force Awakens which was already in play pretty much everywhere else. It ultimately netted about $22M in India, landing it at No. 5 amongst all Indian films for the year, and grossed another $4.9M in the U.S. Still, SRK has three of the Top 10 highest-grossing Hindi films ever worldwide and Dilwale is amongst them.
More recently, Fan, which marked a departure for the icon — and in which he played dual roles — released April 15 and has taken about $12.5M in India. While it’s the No. 3 film of the year, it may have difficulty breaking the coveted 100 crore barrier and is vastly behind The Jungle Book ($34.4M) at No. 1 and Airlift ($19.3M) at No. 2. It has, however, taken in more than $10M overseas.
Powerhouse Yash Raj Films released Fan and is also handling Salman Khan’s Sultan. He has traditionally owned the Eid holiday, although he sat it out in 2013, when SRK stepped in with then record-breaker Chennai Express. Khan’s recent films, Bajrangi Bhaijaan ($48.15M) and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo ($31.6M), were massive hits at home with the No. 1 and 2 slots on the 2015 Bollywood chart. Last year notably saw the star acquitted in a hit-and-run case that had been making its way through the courts since 2002 and led to much hand-wringing within the industry which relies heavily on its major stars.
A drama about a mixed martial artist and wrestler, Khan’s Sultan will no longer have to grapple with Raees.