Hardline group's attack boosts B.O. to $18 million worldwide

Hardline Indian group Shiva’s Army’s call to ban Shah Rukh Khan starrer “My Name Is Khan” in Mumbai backfired as the Fox Star Studios release scored the highest three-day opening weekend for a Bollywood film, grossing $18 million worldwide, distributors Fox Star Studios said Monday.

It broke Stateside records with a three-day haul of $1.9 million in 120 locations, the biggest Bollywood bow in the U.S.The film opened at No. 1 across India thanks to publicity from news reports of theaters being vandalized by Shiva’s Army members.

Its leader, Bal Thackeray, called for the ban due to Khan’s remarks favoring the participation of Pakistani cricketers in the Indian Premier League. Police arrested hundreds and threatened to withdraw security around Thackeray if there was more violence.

But a three-day holiday, publicity from the news reports as well as pic’s Berlin preem and Bollywood’s support behind Khan boosted box office in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

“3 Idiots” which opened over the 2009 Christmas frame holds the four-day record with $21.4 million.

Vijay Singh, CEO Fox Star Studios, said: “The most exciting part is that the worldwide collections jumped every day from Friday to Saturday to Sunday.”

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