The past week has witnessed a tremendous amount of interest in the box office figures for two Indian films — SS Rajamouli’s Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (also spelt as Bahubali 2, the sequel to 2015’s Baahubali: The Beginning) and the Nitish Tiwari-directed Aamir Khan starrer Dangal (2016).
When Baahubali 2 released on 28 April 2017, the list of highest earning Indian films stood something like this: Aamir Khan’s PK was on the top slot with Rs 792 crore in box office collections. It was followed by Khan’s Dangal and then, Baahubali: The Beginning.
Much has been said and written about Baahubali 2’s unprecedented success in the time since its release — it is the Indian film to have made the fastest Rs 100 crore; it was the first Indian film to breach the $100 million mark; it was the first Indian film to cross Rs 1,500 crore.
Aamir Khan’s Dangal, however, has been playing a quick game of catch-up since its release in China in the first week of May. Having opened across a record 9,000 screens in the ‘land of the dragon’ (that’s the total number of screens Baahubali 2 opened on, worldwide), Dangal quickly outstripped PK’s landmark collections to earn close to Rs 900 crore from the China box office. The exact figure, as per trade analyst Taran Adarsh is Rs 888 crore.
This has helped push Dangal’s earnings to Rs 1,662 crore overall as of Monday, 29 May 2017 — nudging aside Baahubali 2 to become India’s highest earning film.
Baahubali 2, however, isn’t far behind. Its collections currently stand at Rs 1,633 crore. The Hindi dubbed version alone has now come close to grossing Rs 500 crore, as per the latest box office reports.
Meanwhile, its producers are angling for an optimal China release. Initial news stories indicate that the film could release across 6,000 screens there.
The release of Baahubali: The Beginning had been delayed in China (because the quota for the number of non-Mandarin films allowed to be screened per year in the country had already been filled at the time) and it’s performance was less than impressive. With Baahubali 2, the makers are hoping to avoid their previous mistakes, and have the film perform significantly better.
Neither Dangal nor Baahubali 2 have shown signs of slowing down their box office domination just yet.
The release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in China could possibly be a factor in stymieing Dangal’s collections there, but for Baahubali 2, even a marginally better performance than Baahubali: The Beginning in China will reap rich dividends.
Getting even a third of Dangal’s collections in China — around Rs 300 crore — could comfortably put Baahubali 2 in a whole new category: the Rs 2,000 crore club.
It’s a space Dangal will have to fight just a little bit harder to reach (because it’s at a different stage of its life cycle/trajectory), although reports indicate that China and Taiwan collections will hold steady for a while yet.
What the film trade will be analysing now is which of these two films will get to the 2,000 crore mark — and who will get there first.