Big fan following, but no big bucks in China for Aamir Khan’s ‘Dangal’

Aamir Khan’s Dangal has been acclaimed as one of the biggest movies this year, especially after its smashing success in China. Even Chinese President Xi Jinping told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi how he loved the film.

The film has replaced Johnny Depp and Mia Wasikowska’s Alice Through The Looking Glass as the 30th biggest hit of 2016 and earned almost USD300 million at the box office. Trade analyst Ramesh Bala tweeted, “#Dangal with $301 M replaces #AliceThroughTheLookingGlass ‘s $299.5 M to become 2016 ‘s No. 30th movie and enters Top 30 2016 WW BO Club!”

However, critical and fan acclaim, in this case, does not necessarily mean a financial windfall. The Chinese government gives only 25 per cent of the box-office revenue to foreign studios for screening at their movie theatres, as compared to the 50 per cent in the US, and 40 per cent in other countries.

Distributor-exhibitor Akshaye Rathi said, “Only 45 foreign films are allowed to release in China. Of these, four are Indian films.” He added that out of the percentage that UTV Disney has earned, more than 80 per cent will be taken by Aamir. “I think it’s unfair because the producer plays the gamble on films, and gets a minority share. But, with someone like Aamir, you know if you invest in his film, you’ll get an assured net per cent return. So, co-productions deal with him like financing ones. It’s a 100 per cent profit and best case scenario for any producer and studio.”

This is the first time a Hindi film has achieved this feat. Bala also wrote, “Dangal becomes the 1st Indian movie to do US$300 M at the WW BO.. #China – $179.41 M, #Taiwan – $6 M, RoW – $115.62 M, Total – $301.03 M.” With the film still plowing on at the box office, it will probably create the INR2000-crore club too, another first for an Indian film. The film has already earned over INR1930 crore in total.

Dangal, a true story of how a wrestler from a Haryana village defied disapproval to train his daughters in his sport, released at home last December and in China on May 5. It has since made over INR1,100 crore in China alone, shattering several records on the way, and is currently the highest-earning non-Hollywood film in the country. Dangal released in China as Shuai Jiao Baba (Let's Wrestle, Dad) across 7,000 screens.

"While we were hoping that Dangal connects with the people of China, not in our wildest dreams we thought that this is the kind of connect we would have. It was unprecedented. We are pleasantly surprised," Aamir Khan told news agency IANS. Aamir's previous films, such as PK and 3 Idiots, also performed tremendously in China.