The most prominent question asked when Aamir Khan’s Dangal started doing well at the box office was: Will it break Sultan’s record?
Salman Khan has been a polarising figure, especially in his second innings that started in 2009 with Wanted, his comeback film. He hasn’t looked back since then.
He has been breaking records, getting obscene amount of money for his TV stints and courting controversy with almost every statement.
His superstardom started with Wanted 2 and continued with films such as Ready (2011) and Ek Tha Tiger (2012). These films established Salman as the most saleable actor in Bollywood, with occasional challenges from Aamir Khan. By the time Dabangg 2 (2012) released, Salman’s supremacy over the ticket window had become a phenomenon.
But a closer look at the box office figures of his last five films gives a good insight into how well Salman’s movies really do. For instance, when Dabangg 2 was running in theatres, collections declined strikingly in the second week, followed by a further fall in collections in the third week. Business went down by 64.59% on the 8th day, and by 68.85% on the 15th day.
A similar pattern can be seen with four other films – Jai Ho (2014), Kick (2014), Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (PRDP; 2015). The audience was particularly harsh with Jai Ho as its collections dropped by approximately 72% by the end of the first week.
By the end of the third week of its run, Jai Ho completely ran out of steam. That year, Salman’s name was dragged into some controversies, which was believed to be the chief reason behind this slide in collections. Kick’s business dropped by 68.90% after seven days, while Bajrangi Bhaijaan’s dropped by 52.5% by the end of the second week. PRDP’s business declined by 78% on the 14th day.
When we take the third week into account, the situation becomes clearer. In fact, it is the third week’s figures that suggest whether a film is going to cross the Rs 250 crore mark or not. Interestingly, all of Salman’s films in the past five years, besides Bajrangi Bhaijaan, lost their sheen by the third week.
A film’s business often drops after the first three days. But the drop percentage of Bajrangi Bhaijaan was significantly lower than that of his other movies. Incidentally, the movie was also praised by most of the critics.
Then came Sultan, an entertainer based in rural Haryana. Released in July, this film is the only Bollywood venture to cross the Rs 200 crore and Rs 300 crore mark this year. The second best is MS Dhoni biopic with collection of approximately Rs 135 crore. The difference between the two tells a lot about the Bollywood dynamics.
When other big actors like Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan were looking for a safer solo releases, Khan marched ahead with enviable confidence.
Now, his Sultan is up against Dangal’s challenge. Will he once again emerge victorious?