Inside The Box: Who Leads The Varisu Vs Thunivu Pongal Battle?

The Vijay and Ajith tentpole films made a combined gross collection of Rs 43 plus crores on their opening day
Inside The Box: Who Leads The Varisu Vs Thunivu Pongal Battle?

Eight years after going up against each other with their releases Jilla and Veeram, Tamil star rivals Vijay and Ajith released both their films in an anticipated Pongal festival clash last week. With fans placing their bets on their star's victory at the box office (a customary tradition among fanclubs of Tamil on-screen rivalries), both these films ended up making a combined gross of Rs 43 plus crores on its opening day (Jan 11, Wednesday). 

Marginal difference in opening figures

Entertainment tracker and columnist Sreedhar Pillai looks at these figures as the biggest combined single day opening in Tamil cinema. “Both films have done Rs 43 crores plus, which has never happened before for any festival single-day opening. The reason for that is that Ajith and Vijay fans went berserk, and the first day almost had 95 per cent occupancy. There were multiple shows starting from 1am on Wednesday morning. Most screens in Tamil Nadu, along with the national multiplexes, had 24 hour programming playing the films.” 

While the numbers aren’t official, Pillai cites trade sources and adds that Thunivu had a slight edge on opening day. “Thunivu had more shows, so it had an edge. It must have done Rs 22 crores and Varisu must have done Rs 21.5 crores. These are not official numbers, but the difference is marginal.”

Keeping the opening day collections aside, both films ran neck to neck in the days following its release, including the January 14-15 weekend. According to Box Office India, Thunivu made a collection of Rs 47 crores over the course of five days in Tamil Nadu, while Varisu amassed a collection of 47.25 crores. 

Beyond domestic markets

The all-India collection of both these films, however, report significant differences. Varisu collected Rs 77 crores in total, while Thunivu made Rs 61 crores. And the reason for Varisu’s leap in pan-Indian markets could also be attributed to its Hindi dub release over the weekend, something that Thunivu did not have. Varisu released in Hindi on January 13, and Gautam Jain, Partner at Ormax, looks at its release date in Hindi as a smart call. 

Varisu Hindi has made around Rs 4 crore net in the past three days. Thunivu, on the other hand, has not been released in Hindi. The film (Varisu) did benefit out of the holiday for Makar Sankranti, which fell on the weekend. So, it made sense to release the film on a Friday in Hindi.” Jain adds that the Vijay film has surpassed Kuttey’s collections over the weekend. 

The makers of Varisu also announced the film’s international box office collections on Monday. According to their tweet, Varisu crossed Rs 150 plus crores in its first five days of release, worldwide. 

The viability of a mid-week release

Even if both films released to huge box office numbers, the fact that they were dropped on a working day, might have contributed to a fall in numbers following release, says Pillai. “If it was a solo release, it would have done 29-30 crores each. The combined release has eaten into the films' collections because the number of shows for each film were less. Also, January 11 was a working day everywhere. So, all fans might have seen the movie on the first day itself. And as a result, there was a huge fall the next day because it was a working day. The collection on Thursday was only about 35 percent of the first day collections. The best way to release a film like this is only on a Friday because the weekend would have taken care of things.”

Jain, however, looks at the Wednesday release as a compelling move for the Hindi market. “Since Varisu released on Jan 11 in a clash with Thunivu, the kind of buzz that the film carried, also gave it that momentum. If there was no clash, both films would have done considerably better than what they did with the clash, but the noise would not have been that better. So, the second and third days would have seen a bigger than normal drop. But because of the clash, you see a 90-95 per cent occupancy throughout the day right from the 3am shows for both films.”

Inside The Box: Who Leads The Varisu Vs Thunivu Pongal Battle?
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He further adds that for a film that was not originally meant for a Hindi release, Varisu has performed really well in Hindi. “For a Tamil film, considering that Vijay is a superstar in Tamil Nadu and also well known in the country, Varisu came with minimal promotions. It was not pitched like a pan Indian film such as a KGF or RRR or Pushpa. For a film like that, it has performed really well, and it has done better than Kuttey over the weekend, and that itself speaks for its merit in terms of what a dubbed film has done when it was not originally meant for a Hindi release.”

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