With $217-mn collections, Dangal becomes biggest Bollywood hit abroad

Amid the gloom that Bollywood finds itself in, one film is making waves more than six months after its release. Disney’s penultimate production in Bollywood, Dangal, is going strong in the overseas market, zooming past competition, having collected $217 million. The biopic about the Phogat sisters released in India in December 2016, and collected Rs 388 crore at the domestic box office. 

Dangal has grossed four-and-half times the overseas business of PK, the most successful Bollywood film ever before this.

As is the norm with overseas distribution, the Aamir Khan-starrer was released abroad in tranches, beginning with traditional overseas territories (UK, US and West Asia) and then was taken to non-traditional territories such as Turkey and China, et cetera. Dangal also entered a fairly new territory in the form of Hong Kong, where Disney’s local team spearheaded the distribution. 

 “We knew Dangal’s story had the power to resonate with people across the globe. We are so very proud about how the movie continues to connect with the audience all over and dominate at the box office even after its third week in a new market like Hong Kong,” says Amrita Pandey, vice president – studios, Disney India. “What makes this special is that the Disney theatrical team in Hong Kong has given the movie the right marketing and distribution platform.”

The film released in 46 screens in Hong Kong and Macau, almost four times more than the regular screen count for a Hindi mainstream release. “The local audience’s overwhelming response reaffirms that an inspiring story backed by the right team, distribution planning, superior storytelling with such strong performances can win hearts and transcend boundaries.  Dangal exemplifies that,” adds Pandey. 

China is the biggest earner for Dangal at $178.3 million. The film released in China earlier this year in May, along with Taiwan. Aamir’s films have done well in China before this as well, with PK making $19.3 million and 3 Idiots making $3 million. North America is the second-highest earning territory for Dangal with $12 million followed by the Gulf at $8.5 million. 

With this, Dangal has raced ahead of previous overseas blockbusters like PK (2014), 3 Idiots (2009), Dhoom 3 (2013) and  this year’s biggest hit, Baahubali 2 (see chart). While S S Rajmouli’s sequel continues to be the most successful Indian film at the domestic box office, Dangal has emerged as the leader in the overseas market by a huge margin. 

This also solidifies Aamir’s popularity in the overseas market. Of the top five films in the international market, four feature Aamir in lead roles. “While Shah Rukh (Khan) and Salman (Khan) are popular in pockets of the international market, Aamir’s popularity is more universal and it has a lot to do with the kind of films he does. In Southeast Asia, Aamir’s popularity can be traced back to 3 Idiots. The film resonated well with audiences there since the educational system in those markets is similar to India’s. That made people curious about Aamir as an actor and his movies started getting visibility in theatres and on the small screen,” says a distributor.

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