Last week I wondered whether Bollywood heist movie Happy New Year would become an all-time blockbuster. Starring the industry’s best-known global hitmaker, Shah Rukh Khan, in a reteam with his Chennai Express co-star Deepika Padukone, it seemed almost like a no-brainer. But Aamir Khan’s December 2013 release Dhoom 3 had set the bar high with an opening weekend of 107.61 crore ($17.6M) in India. Although there are some conflicting numbers being bandied about out there this morning, SRK’s production company Red Chillies Entertainment has said the Farah Khan-directed Happy New Year did best Dhoom 3 at home, breaking the record for biggest opening day on Friday with 44.97 crore, or $7.35M. That led to the biggest opening weekend ever, with 108.86 crore ($17.8M). Highlighting how much of an event this film is in India, the No. 1 and 2 trending hashtags on local Twitter today are: #HNYBestFilmEver and #AskSrk.
But, we’re still waiting on distributor actuals for the non-India markets — Yash Raj Films, which also handled Dhoom 3, did not disclose estimates on Sunday. So far, HNY has taken $1.41M, according to Rentrak. That only covers the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia, and doesn’t rep all screens. The film also released in North America, the UAE, the Netherlands, Kuwait and Pakistan. In North America on about 260 screens, HNY will have to break the $3.43M that Dhoom 3 had for the best Bollywood opening weekend ever in the territory. In order to climb into the Top Ten, it would have to outpace Dracula Untold‘s three-day estimate of $4.29M. The film runs long at three hours meaning it will have had fewer plays than most Bollywood films, but it’s worth remembering that Dhoom 3 clocked in close to that at 172 minutes. In the UK, actuals will have to be over $1.45M for HNY to set a record. I’ll report back with updated figures later today.
The action comedy is the latest in a string of hot Bollywood titles that this year have included Hrithik Roshan in Bang Bang and Salma Khan in Kick. It’s about a group of six “losers” who fake participating in a dance competition in an attempt to pull off the greatest diamond heist ever. Although reviews have been somewhat mixed, these big Bollywood titles tend to be critic-proof — just see today’s top hashtag.