Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan’s newest film, “Don 2,” has surpassed the 2011 record for the highest-grossing Bollywood movie in North America.
In just 11 days, from Dec. 23 to Jan. 2nd, the Farhan Akhtar-directed action flick grossed $3.3 million, beating the previous record of $3.1 million in 10 weeks for “Zindagi Na Milegi,” which starred Hrithik Roshan. If “Don 2? continues its strong streak, it’s poised to become one of the top grossing Bollywood films in North America of all time (“3 Idiots” at $6.5 million and “My Name is Khan” at $4 million currently hold the honors).
The number is bigger than the first “Don,” which hit theaters stateside and in Canada in 2006 and had a gross of slightly more than $2 million. It is also a jump from the $2.5 million earned by Khan’s other action movie from 2011, “R.A. One,” which released during Diwali.
Only seven Bollywood movies have crossed the $3 million mark in North America, according to Gitesh Pandya, head of Box Office Guru, a New York City company that markets Indian films in North America, including “Don 2.” He said there are two reasons for the jump in revenue from the first to the second installments of the film: an increased number of theaters the second movie is playing in (160 compared with the 113 in 2006) and its release during the December holiday season, when consumers have more time off to head to the movies.
Overall, Bollywood movies bring in more money today than three or four years ago because they are played in far more theaters, he said. “The films used to typically run in less than 80 theaters, many of which were Indian film houses,” Mr. Pandya said. “Now, as the interest in Bollywood has grown with Indians and non-Indians, the ones with the big stars are released in double the number of theaters, including American multiplexes like Regal and AMC.”
“Don 2? also stars Priyanka Chopra, Lara Dutta and Om Puri and is centered around the mobster Don, played by Khan. The first film was set in Kuala Lumpur, while the second is set in Berlin and focuses on Don trying to break into a bank to steal plates that make euros.