How Aamir Khan's Secret Superstar contributed to China's global, record-breaking box-office collections
Despite running for just 18 days in February, Secret Superstar has become the highest-grossing import film of the month in China
According to the official statistics released by SAPPRFT (The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television), China's primary media regulatory authority, the country's cumulative box-office earnings in February 2018 swiftly busted past the 10 billion yuan mark ($1.57 billion), setting a global monthly box-office record.
The new benchmark set by the PRC box-office has comfortably dethroned the long-held record of North America's $1.395 billion gross of July 2011 when three tentpole Hollywood blockbusters including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and Captain America: The First Avenger wreaked havoc at the ticket window in the west.
It's a significant milestone in the box-office history and comes at a time when China – the world's second-largest movie market – is inching towards its target of overtaking North America (the United States of America and Canada) as the world's largest film market by early 2019.
Aamir Khan’s Secret Superstar, which hit theaters in the country on 19 January and completed its month-long run on 18 February, amassed a total gross of 260 million yuan ($41 million) in its 18-day period in February alone, accounting for nearly 2.6% of China’s total box-office receipts ($1.57 billion) in theatrical distribution for February. Although the 12.5% increase in the box-office sales between North America’s July 2011 and China’s February 2018 was majorly propelled by the local triumvirate – Operation Red Sea, Detective Chinatown 2 and Monster Hunt 2 – and also the Spring festival (Chinese New Year) holidays, the fact that the Advait Chandan-directed Secret Superstar has also earned a place in the historic box-office feat is quite remarkable.
Despite running for just 18 days in February, Secret Superstar has become the highest-grossing import film of the month in PRC with its gross of 260 million yuan ($41 million), even outshining Hollywood films such as Maze Runner: The Death Cure and The Greatest Showman, and homegrown movies such as Forever Young, The Faces of My Gene, and Till the End of the World. In fact, Secret Superstar has earned more than twice of Maze Runner and Forever Young’s individual ticket sales in February.
Secret Superstar, which stars Aamir Khan in a 22-minute special appearance, has also emerged as the sixth highest-grossing foreign film in China in February, which witnessed more than a dozen local releases in order to capitalize on the New Year holidays. The Zaira Wasim-starring drama, which was the first Indian movie to secure a revenue-sharing slot in the PRC, is also one of the 15 films which earned more than 100 million yuan in the mainland in 2018 so far.
Secret Superstar, which supplanted Japanese animation blockbuster Your Name to become the second highest-earning non-Hollywood import film in the PRC, was also the third highest-grossing movie in the country in January 2018. The film garnered a peachy cumulative of 486 million yuan ($77 million) in its 13-day run in January.
In the last decade, excluding Secret Superstar which released this year, only nine Indian films have made it to the Chinese screens with an approximate average of one movie a year. While 2014 (Dhoom 3, Delhi Safari), 2015 (Happy New Year, PK) and 2016 (Baahubali: The Beginning, Fan) saw two Indian movies a year, there were no releases in 2012 and 2013 despite the modest box-office performance of Aamir Khan's 3 Idiots, which saw the light of day in the PRC in 2011.
Now, thanks to the humongous gross of nearly $200 million posted by Dangal, the highest-grossing non-Hollywood film in China, last year, we have already had two Indian releases in 2018 in Secret Superstar and Bajrangi Bhaijaan. China's moviegoers' rejuvenated interest in Indian films can be safely attributed to the concept-driven blockbusters of Aamir Khan which resonate well with the country's millennials. In fact, 2018 will be the first year which will witness more than two Indian films release in the Chinese mainland with the Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar-starrer Hindi Medium scheduled to hit screens in the second quarter of this year.
Salman Khan's Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which released on 2 March for the Lantern Festival in China, has collected a gross of $12.13 million (Rs 78.6 cr) in five days and is exhibiting a modest growth at the box-office. The total worldwide gross of Bajrangi Bhaijaan now stands at $106.2 million (Rs 689 cr) and will soon become the first film of Salman Khan to breach the Rs. 700 cr club, which is currently dominated by Aamir Khan.
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