Rajinikanth’s ‘Jailer’ Leads Historical Indian Box Office Weekend

The combined performances of Rajinikanth’s “Jailer,” Sunny Deol’s “Gadar 2,” Akshay Kumar’s “OMG 2” and Chiranjeevi’s “Bhola Shankar” have set a new all-time theatrical gross box office record for the Indian cinema industry.

Numbers released by the Multiplex Association of India and the Producers Guild of India reveal that the Aug. 11-13 weekend was the busiest weekend post re-opening after pandemic shut downs with 21 million admissions, which is also the highest combined admissions record in the last 10 years. The weekend gross box office of INR3.9 billion ($47 million) is the highest in the history of Indian cinema.

Headlined by superstar Rajinikanth, “Jailer,” directed by Nelson, follows a jailer who comes out of retirement to save his family from gangsters. The Tamil-language film produced by Sun Pictures released Aug. 10 and has grossed $36.5 million worldwide in four days.

Led by Sunny Deol and directed by Anil Sharma, Zee Studios’ Hindi-language “Gadar 2,” a sequel to 2001 partition era saga “Gadar,” is set in 1971 and picks up the action some 16 years later. It released Aug. 11 and has grossed $21 million worldwide in three days.

Starring Akshay Kumar and directed by Amit Rai, Cape of Good Films, Viacom18 Studios and Wakaoo Films’ Hindi-language “OMG 2” is a sequel to 2012 satire “OMG – Oh My God” and deals with the topic of sex education in Indian schools. It released Aug. 11 and has earned $7.3 million in three days.

Featuring Chiranjeevi and directed by Meher Ramesh, “Bhola Shankar” is a remake of 2015 Tamil-language hit “Vedalam” and turns on a brother who wreaks vengeance on criminals who harmed his sister. The AK Entertainments and Creative Commercials production released Aug. 11 and has collected $3 million in three days.

The numbers are likely to be boosted as Aug. 15 is a public holiday in India for Independence Day.

Shibasish Sarkar, president, Producers Guild of India, said: “Mainstream storytelling executed in the right way has resulted in the box office records being shattered. A massive achievement like this is a result of an incredible filmmaking team, with cast and crew coming together to create a truly special movie-going experience. The turnout at theatres has infused a new energy in our Industry, audiences are responding in numbers we have not seen for a very long time, even the early morning shows are getting sold out. This weekend has been a wonderful experience for people who love the mainstream Indian films.”

Kamal Gianchandani, president, Multiplex Association of India, added: “It was a historic weekend; it proves once again that India loves going to the movies to see great films. This weekend is also an undeniable demonstration of cinemas being the ultimate place to be part of a shared experience. cinemas across the country would like to thank and congratulate our filmmakers and studios for pushing the boundaries to deliver unforgettable storytelling. This weekend shows that movies and cinemas are back in a big, big way. We look forward to this momentum continuing in the rest of 2023.”

After Shah Rukh Khan’s “Pathaan” ignited a stagnant post-pandemic box office in January, Indian hits had been sporadic. While there were sparks across India’s various language-specific film industries, including the Hindi-language “The Kerala Story,” “Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar” and “Zara Hatke Zara Bachke,” the Telugu-language “Waltair Veerayya” and “Veera Simha Reddy,” the Malayalam-language “2018” and “Romancham” and the Tamil-language “Ponniyin Selvan: II,” the overall box office remained sluggish for the first five months of 2023.

The Indian box office caught fire in the June-July period with hits including the Hindi-language “Satyaprem Ki Katha,” Marathi-language “Baipan Bhaari Deva,” Punjabi-language “Carry On Jatta 3,” Telugu-language “Bro” and “Baby” and Tamil-language “Maaveeran.”

Hollywood enjoys a 10% market share in India and, after the success of “Fast X” in May, the twin releases of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” in July saw audiences surging into cinemas. Multihyphenate Karan Johar’s star-studded “Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani” hit cinemas in the wake of the “Barbenheimer” juggernaut and became a major hit.

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