'Ra.One' Opens Strong Grossing Over $35 Million Worldwide

12:45 AM PST 11/01/2011 by Nyay Bhushan

Considered India's most expensive film, the superhero caper starring Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan sets numerous records.

NEW DELHI – Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan's big budget super-hero caper Ra.One collected over 1.7 billion rupees ($35 million) worldwide in its first five days of release after the film opened on the festive occasion of Diwali on Oct. 26.

Directed by Anubhav Sinha and produced by Khan's banner Red Chillies Entertainment, Ra.One was released worldwide by Eros International and is considered India's most expensive production with an estimated budget of over 1.5 billion rupees. Ra.One opened in over 3,100 screens in India with 904 prints internationally.

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According to Eros, Ra.One has set new records, including highest Diwali day India collections, grossing 265 million rupees with a net of 185 million rupees. The second day collections on Thursday, Oct. 27 reached 360 million rupees with a net of 251 million rupees, making it the highest collection ever on a single day for any Indian film. Internationally, the film grossed 327.5 million rupees.

At press time, U.S. figures were still not available, but Ra.One is expected to perform strongly given Khan's pulling power with the mostly diaspora audience.

Ra.One's distributor reported a U.S. opening weekend of $1.65 million, making it Shah Rukh Khan's third-biggest debut here behind My Name is Khan and Om Shanti Om,” U.S.-based analyst boxofficeguru.com editor Gitesh Pandya told The Hollywood Reporter. “However, the distributor reported the figure as being for Friday-to-Sunday when the film actually opened on Wednesday, so it is not clear if the figure actually covers all five days or not. It was also not clear if the figure included the Tamil and Telugu versions which played in many theaters here.”

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As for the film's potential to cross beyond the diaspora, Pandya said, “There doesn't seem to be any interest from mainstream moviegoers (in the U.S.) though as awareness is very low outside of the South Asian community.”

Ra.One has had a brilliant opening across the U.S. Despite storms in the east coast and a state of emergency declared, the film has performed so well. Apart from audience appreciation, leading media like the New York Times and LA Times have hailed the film too and we can confidently declare this film to be one of the biggest ever blockbusters and top earners for an Indian film in the U.S.,” said Eros International USA president Ken Naz in a statement.

“The Saturday release of 3D versions in most overseas markets means that we are looking at the film continuing to do some excellent numbers through the coming weeks,”  added Eros International plc president, distribution, Pranab Kapadia.

Ra.One was heavily marketed with an aggressive campaign which saw Khan on a marathon drive to promote the film via public appearances, from tie-in merchandise launch events to India's first Formula One motor race Sunday near Delhi where the film's logo was featured on the Force India team cars.

“As well as setting new box office records, Ra.One has also been able to set a new benchmark in terms of brand tie-ups and merchandising,” said Eros International Media group CFO Kamal Jain. “With Volkswagen, McDonald's, PlayStation and Tag Heuer among its partners, it has opened up a whole new area of funding and cross-promotion. Through pre-licensing of rights and the strong theatrical advances and collections to date, we have already recovered our investment.”

Eros plans to open the film in non-traditional overseas markets in the coming months with Ra.One scheduled for theatrical release in the first quarter of 2012 in South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Russia, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Brazil, Spain, Italy and Greece.

Eros' upcoming line-up also looks promising with titles such as director Imtiaz Ali's musical drama Rockstar starring Ranbir Kapoor, Rohit Dhawan’s comedy caper Desi Boyz starring Akshay Kumar and John Abraham and Shriram Raghavan’s actioner Agent Vinod starring Saif Ali Khan.

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