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.
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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.
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