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Shah Rukh beats Tom Cruise
Arthur J Pais | November 12, 2007 17:59 IST
Last Updated: November 13, 2007 11:21 IST
Shah Rukh Khan and writer-director Farah Khan exceeded the wildest forecasts as they not only beat the Tom Cruise [Images], Robert Redford and Meryl Streep starring political drama Lions for Lambs over the weekend outside America but also propelled their Om Shanti Om into world movie history.
The film grossed a mighty $17 million gross in India and an estimated $4 million in the United States, Canada [Images], the United Kingdom, Australia and the UAE. Ken Naz, who runs distribution company Eros International in North America, called the phenomenon a high watermark for Indian movie industry.
OSO could exceed the $3 million mark set by each Kabhi Alvida Naa Kahna and Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Gam in North America and the United Kingdom. Shah Rukh featured in those films, too well.
Shah Rukh Khan [Images] produced OSO was the highest grossing film outside North America, followed closely by the boldly successful Sanjay Leela Bhansali's [Images] intensely romantic Saawariya, the first film the Hollywood giant Sony made with an Indian producer. The film, which too performed far beyond the expectations, grossed $14.4 million in India, according to Sony. In North America, Australia, the United Kingdom and the UAE, it mesmerized an impressive $1.2 million.
The grand success of two Indian films caught the attention of leading publications ranging from The Washington Post to Variety, the influential trade publication.
Variety declared that 'Bollywood stole the spotlight from Tom Cruise's Lions for Lambs at the international box office over the weekend, with a pair of socko launches for Om Shanti Om and Saawariya [Images].'
While Lions for Lambs launched with a $10.3 million in 45 foreign markets that number was easily topped by the two Indian films each showing in less than a dozen markets.
It was also the first time in recent Indian movie history two very big films opened with huge numbers the same weekend. Such a phenomenon is not uncommon in Hollywood. For instance, 10 days ago American Gangster [Images] opened with $43 million, and the animated comedy Bee Movie sucked in $39 million.
While many critics had welcomed OSO as a lively crime comedy, they were harsh on Saawariya calling it meandering and boring. But the audiences thought the opposite. Even if the film were to come down mightily in the next few weeks, it could still prove to be profitable, trade insiders say.
In North America, OSO, which was No. 12 on the box-office chart led by Bee Movie's $26 million in its second week, the crime comedy took in $1.5 million making it not the highest grossing Hindi film of all time, beating KANK [Images]'s $1.3 million. But while the latter produced and directed by Karan Johar [Images] also starred Shah Rukh, it had a huge cast comprising Amitabh Bachchan [Images], Abhishek, Preity Zinta [Images] and Rani Mukherjee [Images], OSO was a solo show for Shah Rukh who was cast opposite debutante Deepika Padukone [Images].
The film also had a widest opening for an Indian film in North America with the distributor Eros International taking up 117 theaters. Usually star-driven Hindi films open in 70 theaters. In many cities including Toronto, Vancouver, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, several shows went full on Saturday.
Sony too gave Saawariya, which opened the Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival in New York on Thursday, a big release, unleashing it in 85 theaters in North America. It generated $600,000 in the U.S., $340,000 in the U.K. and $100,000 in Australia, according to the distributor.
'The stunning numbers for both pics comes two months after Sony pacted with Eros -- the leading Indian movie group -- for a multipicture production and distribution deal that encompasses six to eight movies in the first year of the agreement,' Variety wrote.