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‘Padmaavat’ Reaches for Third Spot at Weekend Global Box Office 

Proving that controversy sells tickets, Indian film “Padmaavat” is homing in on the No. 3 spot at the global box office over the past weekend.

With grosses not yet available from Pakistan or the Middle East, “Padmaavat” has earned $30.5 million in four days, from Thursday to Sunday. That includes $22.8 million from India, where distributors in four states chose not to release the film for fear of mob violence.

In India it opened across 4,000 screens last Thursday and benefited from the long Republic Day holiday weekend. It was made on a $30 million budget, backed by Viacom18, and counts Paramount as a distributor in some territories.

Distributed in the U.S. by Viva Entertainment, “Padmaavat” opened there on 324 screens and bowed at No. 11, with $4.1 million over the weekend proper and $4.7 million over four days. In Australia, the film grossed $1.4 million, and $307,000 in New Zealand. It collected $1.2 million in the U.K.

Global film rankings from international tracking service ComScore show “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” as the weekend winner with a worldwide $86.1 million, followed by “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” with $34.1 million. ComScore, however, does not provide global coverage for every film released and excluded “Padmaavat” outside North America. Had it been included, the Indian epic would have jostled with “The Greatest Showman” ($19.6 million in three days), fellow Indian title “Secret Superstar” ($19 million in three days, largely from China), and Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” for a leading chart position.

“Padmaavat,” starring marquee names Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, is about the machinations of a Muslim invader to win over a Hindu queen who is married to a king of the Rajput warrior class. It was dogged by controversy from the time it began shooting, with Rajput fringe groups alleging that there was a romantic dream sequence between the Muslim ruler and the Hindu queen, and that history had been distorted.

India’s Central Board of Film Certification and the Supreme Court approved the film for release, but pre-release protests turned violent. In one incident caught on video that went viral, anti-“Padmaavat” protesters pelted a school bus with stones. The protest groups had not seen the film.

Upon release, it became clear to the protesters and the audience alike that the film glorifies the Rajput community, rather than vilifying it, and the protests died away quickly. The film now has nearly two weeks to enjoy its momentum before the next major release, “Padman,” on Feb. 9.

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