LONDON — Indian epic “Baahubali: The Beginning,” the most expensive Indian film ever made with a budget of $40 million (including its sequel), has grossed $25.6 million in its opening weekend, smashing records in the process.
Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni’s Arka Media produced the film, directed by S.S. Rajamouli (“Eega,” “Magadheera”), and released it worldwide on some 4,650 screens in Telugu-, Tamil-, Hindi- and Malayalam-language versions. The first record that fell by the wayside was for opening day: Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s 2014 release “Happy New Year” had launched to $7.1 million, but “Baahubali” surpassed that with $7.8 million.
The record for Indian opening weekend was the next to fall, with “Happy New Year’s” $17 million eclipsed by the $22.8 million collected for “Baahubali.”
The film is also the biggest Indian opener in the U.S., where it was released across 250 screens and took $4.4 million over the weekend. The film’s per screen average of $17,000 is second only to the mighty $27,000 achieved by “Minions.”
The record to beat for “Baahubali” is the cume of $120 million for 2014 Aamir Khan starrer “P.K.,” including strong China, South Korea and U.S. numbers. “Baahubali” will eventually see release in East Asian markets. The vfx-heavy story of brothers in medieval India in conflict over a rich kingdom is of a piece with Tsui Hark, John Woo and Zhang Yimou extravaganzas and should resonate with those audiences.
“Baahubali” ends on a cliffhanger, and sequel “Baahubali: The Conclusion” will be released in 2016.