Akshay Kumar gets solid China debut with ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’
New Delhi: Akshay Kumar has managed an impressive debut in the China market with his satirical comedy drama Toilet: Ek Prem Katha that made $9.06 million (Rs61.04 crore) there over its opening weekend. Titled Toilet Hero for Chinese audiences, the film that released across 4,300 screens has beaten the record of films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan, PK and Dhoom 3 that earned Rs55 crore, Rs36.25 crore and Rs8.11 crore over their first three days in China respectively. Released in India last year, the Shree Narayan Singh-directed film had made Rs134.22 crore in box office collections domestically.
Trade website Box Office India said the film on sanitary hygiene had managed more than 1.8 million footfalls with 165,745 screenings over the three days. Debuting on the second spot at the China box office, it zoomed to the number one position later.
“The latest Indian export, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, has been embraced warmly by local audiences in China. Box office can be most unpredictable, but that’s the beauty of this business. A section of the industry wasn’t too confident of Toilet: Ek Prem Katha striking a chord in China due to the issue it raises, all speculations and calculations have proven wrong,” tweeted trade analyst Taran Adarsh.
To be sure, the Akshay Kumar-starrer only adds to the long list of Bollywood superhits in China. Released in April this year, Irrfan Khan’s satirical comedy Hindi Medium has crossed the Rs200 crore mark in the country, while Salman Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan had notched up Rs300 crore within a month of release. But the China success story has mostly been driven by Aamir Khan—his sports drama Dangal is currently the highest-grossing Indian film in China with collections of Rs1,200 crore while his musical production Secret Superstar has earned about Rs760 crore. Other blockbusters include PK (Rs123 crore), Dhoom 3 (Rs24 crore) and 3 Idiots (Rs16 crore).
Film industry experts have emphasized on a couple of factors responsible for Bollywood’s continuing success in China. The country has almost quadrupled its screen count in the last few years, from around 10,000. India, on the other hand, works with 9,530 cinemas divided between single screens and multiplexes, according to the Ficci-EY media and entertainment industry report 2017.
The second big factor contributing to the sky-high collections in China may be the difference in ticket rates. The average ticket price in China is $12 compared to $1.5 in India. Moreover, the age-old focus on local production remains and the foreign film quota is still restricted to about 40-50 a year, divided between Hollywood and products from other industries.
However, most importantly, Indian film narratives have found resonance with Chinese audiences who have long been used to locally produced spectacle-driven fantasies and mythologicals. Be it Dangal with its father-daughter relationship or Bajrangi Bhaijaan about the golden-hearted simpleton who takes a young child back home to Pakistan, there is a seemingly strong emotional connection.