In the process, the film has rewritten some records for Tamil-language cinema. The film released on Sept. 30 and collected $9.8 million on that day, making it the highest all-time opening day for a Tamil-language film.
In the U.S., the film opened in sixth position with $4.01 million, making it the highest opening for a Tamil-language film in the territory. It also had the highest per screen average of $8,036 among films in the top 10.
In Malaysia, where it earned MYR8.4 million ($1.8 million), it had the highest three-day opening for an Indian film in the territory this year.
“Ponniyin Selvan: 1” also had a strong opening in the IMAX format across the U.S., U.K. India and Singapore.
Written by the late Kalki Krishnamurthy, “Ponniyin Selvan,” a classic of Tamil literature, was serialized in the Kalki magazine between 1950 and 1954 and was later published as five novels in 1955. It is set in the 10th century across southern India and Sri Lanka, during a tumultuous time in the Chola empire when the power struggle between different branches of the ruling family caused violent rifts between the potential successors to the reigning emperor and a civil war became imminent.
Ratnam and his writers condensed the story into two films. The first part ends on a cliffhanger and the second part, the shooting for which is complete, will release in 2023.
The film boasts a powerhouse cast including Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Vikram, Jayam Ravi, Karthi, Trisha Krishnan, Aishwarya Lekshmi, Sobhita Dhulipala, Prabhu, Sarath Kumar, Jayaram, Prakash Raj, Jayachitra, Rahman, Vikram Prabhu, Ashwin Kakumanu, Lal, Parthiban, Babu Antony and Riyaz Khan.
The week’s other Indian release “Vikram Vedha,” also opened to glowing reviews like “Ponniyin Selvan: 1” but the box office has been slow so far. The film, a series of action-packed face-offs between a cop and a criminal, played by Saif Ali Khan and Hrithik Roshan, collected $6.3 million worldwide over the weekend. This includes $1.01 million in the U.S., where it opened at No. 11.