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Domination Of Indian Films At The U.S. & Worldwide Box Office: 2022, Year In Review


2022 is a pivotal year for film industries around the world, as it’s coming off of two straight underwhelming years at the box office (’20 and’ 21) due to worldwide lockdowns. Hollywood had even more pressure to perform well. On top of COVID-19, they had to adjust themselves to people’s changing viewing habits (streaming) during the lockdown as well as make audiences come back to theaters despite formulaic franchise fatigue kicking in (especially in the superhero genre) in people’s minds.

But the year did not start as well as they had hoped, with no “big blockbusters” released in the first two months of 2022, largely due to Omicron and then the famous (or, should we say, infamous) Will Smith incident at the Oscars, that did not help either. Even though the guaranteed moneymakers (the two giant MCU sequels released in the summer) did collect a good chunk of money, they were nowhere near what they were initially projected to earn, i.e., crossing the billion-dollar mark. ‘Fantastic Beasts 3’ couldn’t replicate the magic of its predecessors either. Then comes Tom Cruise with his ‘Top Gun Maverick’, which shattered all box office records. Theater owners in the U.S. finally breathed a huge sigh of relief.

Although one movie was not enough for a full recovery, the audience (especially the older demographic) was still not fully confident about sitting in a crowded theater in the early half of the year, and the younger generation was exposed to all sorts of international content during the lockdown days. Their longing for fresh new international content; away from the boundaries of franchises; is where the plethora of foreign films filled a niche in the U.S. box office this year, especially Indian films. And that is what we will break down here today. 

If we see the top 5 domestic (U.S.) opening weekend box office of 2022 for international films, three of those happen to be Indian films. 

1Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero$21,124,049
2Jujutsu Kaisen 0$18,003,204
4Brahmastra part one: Shiva$4,543,659
5KGF Chapter 2$2,927,234

Not only did Indian films perform well against other foreign releases, but they also went toe to toe with native Hollywood biggies like The Batman, Top Gun Maverick, etc.; some weekends even surpassed them with just a limited release (<1000 theaters). We hardly ever see films from India getting into the top 10 list. But this year, we have witnessed not just one or two but five such massive weekends so far.

Weekend 11 (March 18-20) 0f 2022, is the first time this year an Indian film showed up in the Top 10

RankMovieGross CollectionTheatersWeek
1The Batman$36,723,19743023
2Jujutsu Kaisen 0$18,009,92122861
6Spider-Man: NWH$3,141,435258514
7Death on the Nile$1,652,80524306
8The Outfit$1,499,73013241
9The Kashmir Files$1,485,0002301

But even this incredible feat is nothing compared to what happened the following weekend when India’s biggest film, RRR, was released at the U.S. box office. It not only broke into the top 10, but it was also able to break into the top 3, just trailing The Batman with less than a third of the screens.

Weekend 12 (March 25-27)

RankMovieGross CollectionTheatersWeek
1The Lost City$30,453,26942531
2The Batman$20,471,99439674
5Jujutsu Kaisen 0$4,584,60224182
8Spider-Man: NWH$2,001,425200315

Due to a massive IMAX screening in Los Angeles, RRR created another record by topping the table of highest earning film per theater basis in the weekend of Sept 30- Oct 2, six months after its release. Not just RRR—there’s another Indian film, Ponniyin Selvan Part 1, in that list, even beating Avatar.

RankMovieCollection/TheaterNo. of Theaters
3Ponniyin Selvan: Part 1$8,200500
5Avatar (Re-release)$2,6951860

20th Century Studios (Walt Disney) distributed Bollywood’s biggest film, “Brahmastra,” in 810 theaters across the United States. Despite such a low screen count, it still managed to not only break into the top 5 but became the 2nd highest opener of that weekend.

RankMovieGross CollectionTheatersWeek
2Brahmastra: Part One- Shiva$4,543,6598101
3Bullet Train $3,310,24530566
4Top Gun Maverick $3,157,227300516
5The Invitation$2,666,97831173
6DC League of Superpets$2,656,05130437

So, now we have a pretty clear idea about how successful Indian films have been at the US and Canadian box office this year. But it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The success of Indian films at the worldwide box office is even more astounding.

On the weekend of Sept 9- 11, no other film on this planet has collected more than Brahmastra in the global box office collections.

RankMovieWorldwide Collections
1Brahmastra: Part One – Shiva$26,643,659
2Give Me Five$20,910,000
3Confidential Assignment 2$16,641,000
5Bullet Train$9,010,245

Mani Ratnam’s “PS-1” had an incredible run at the box office, which even surpassed the mighty Avatar re-release at global box office for the weekend of Sept 30–Oct 2.

RankMovieWorlwide Collection
1Home- Coming$58,329,000
3Ponniyin Selvan: part one$28,000,000
4Avatar (Re-release)$17,311,989
5Don’t Worry Darling$13,247,169

In that same weekend, among the top five limited-release (less than 1,000 theaters) films at the U.S. box office, three of those were Indian films.

1Ponniyin Selvan 1$4,100,0001
2Vikram Vedha$986,1721
3Moonage Daydream$447,5813
5Brahmastra: part one$121,2454

This kind of rampage by Indian films in terms of box office collections at the global level has never been witnessed before. Just a couple of days ago, SS Rajamouli confirmed in Chicago that his father, K.V. Vijayendra Prasad, is in the early development of the script of the RRR Sequel. If RRR Part 2 comes out, it might be the first film from India to get a true wide theatrical release in the U.S., and it is safe to say that it will break all records there, as RRR has a huge buzz among westerners even to this day. Hopefully, Indian film industries will continue to produce large-scale films every year from now on so that people in the west can feel the presence of Indian movies even more.

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Rounak Mahato
Rounak Mahato
Rounak keeps a keen eye on the box office performance of newly released Hollywood and Indian films. Keeping track of those numbers helps him compare the performances of the films with their predecessors or competitors. Rounak also holds a degree in electronics and communication engineering.

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