Indian box office watchers have been eagerly anticipating the box office numbers for the Taiwan release of SS Rajamouli’s period action-fantasy-romance Baahubali: The Conclusion, to assess the blockbuster film’s prospects for catching up with India’s all-time highest-grossing movie, Dangal.
For a brief period in May, the Baahubali sequel held that title, but lost it after Dangal, a sports drama starring Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan, opened in China in early May and commenced an unprecedented run that resulted in the highest single-territory gross for an Indian movie ever seen. To date, Dangal has amassed $192 million in the PRC, more than three times as much as it earned in its home territory of India.
Taiwan by itself wouldn't have given Baahubali 2 nearly enough revenue to close the 300 crore/$46 million gap between it and Dangal. But for box office watchers, Taiwan served as a bellwether, a test run for the big show in China, where the South Indian Baahubali 2 would have its last real shot at catching its northern Indian box office rival. Dangal earned 40 crore rupees ($6.2 million) in its Taiwan run, so it stands to reason that Baahubali 2 would need to collect at least that much in the island nation if it was to have any hope of scoring the roughly 260 crore ($40 million) additional gross it would require in the PRC to set a new global record.
Since Taiwanese and Chinese audiences have overlapping tastes in movies, many reckoned that Taiwan would give a clear signal as to whether Baahubali 2 might be a big hit in the mainland. But the modest $44,000 opening weekend gross it earned at 13 locations in Taiwan--compared to the $222,000 haul Dangal earned there in its debut 3-day frame--portends an only moderate gross for Baahubali: The Conclusion in the PRC. While it can be countered that Baahubali 2 opened in only a third the number of locations, it grossed only a fifth as much as Dangal did, so Baahubali's per-screen average was an unpersuasive 60 percent that of Dangal's.
Of course, things could change in Taiwan in the coming weeks, or mainland China could respond far more enthusiastically than Taiwan has to Baahubali 2. It's too early to take these numbers as definitive proof of anything. But for now, Dangal's claim to the Indian all-time box office crown looks safe.