Bollywood icon Salman Khan’s return to the screen after nearly seven months found welcome audiences at home as wrestling drama Sultan set a new 2016 benchmark opening day in India with 36.54 crore ($5.5M) on Wednesday. The one-day take tops Shah Rukh Khan’s Fan at No. 2 with 19.20 crore ($2.9M) and the current No. 1 Hindi movie of the year, Airlift, which bowed to 12.35 crore ($1.9M) back in January. It also bests Disney’s The Jungle Book which opened to $2.1M and has gone on to be the No. 1 movie overall in India this year as well as the biggest Hollywood movie ever there with a total $39M.
One of the most anticipated films to come from Bollywood in some time, Sultan nevertheless did not smash Khan’s own all-time opening record. That was set by his last picture, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo which bowed on a Thursday in November last year to 40.35 crore ($6.1M).
Sultan is now the No. 2 opening day ever for the major box office draw and has been met by positive reviews at home. It will run unfettered over the current Eid holiday weekend and has a clear path ahead of it in the next few weeks. It is expected to land among the top international grossers this frame.
Outside India, where Sultan is launching in about 50 day-and-date markets, U.S. previews began last night with $502,472 on 260 screens from 6PM. It releases there on 287 screens beginning today. Elsewhere, the first numbers from Wednesday show $1.4M in the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries; $232K at 104 dates in the UK; $153K from 29 screens in Australia and $40K in New Zealand on 16 screens.
Produced by Yash Raj Films and directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, Sultan was made on a reported 90 crore budget. To beat PRDP, it will have to make over $27M in India this weekend for the title holder of biggest Bollywood opening of all time.