Release Date: September 1, 2011
Total: $3,019,322 (41.05 multiplier)
The fall of 2011 was a turning point for Hong Kong's box office industry. It not only produced a Mandarin-speaking hit but other countries also saw their films become sensations. One of those happened to be India. At the time of 3 Idiots's release, Indian films were nowhere to be found. 2 of HK's biggest movies of Indian culture or exposure weren't from Bollywood but from the local film industry or Hollywood. When 3 Idiots was announced to come out on September 1, no one expected anything of it as it was a 2 year old film that was in a foreign language. Week after week, however, it defied local box office experts and theater owners alike as word of mouth spread like wildfire and people flocked to watch it. It even got mainstream attention with celebrities promoting the film and telling their fans to watch it. 3 Idiots broke records including the longest run ever at a whopping 27 weeks, 7 more than Avatar. Hong Kong also became its #1 international market (minus US) beating the likes of UK, South Korea and Australia. You could never tell it would make over 3m from its opening weekend but it flabbergasted everyone by unleashing a 41.05 multiplier. Yes, a 41.05 multiplier. In other words, its opening weekend was just 2.4% of its total box office run. It triumphed where so many other Bollywood films failed and its release date played a huge part in its gross.
Coinciding with the beginning of the school year, 3 Idiots started its run on September 1. Showing with a limited release, 3 Idiots was booked into 9 theaters on its opening weekend and it performed modestly. It turned in a $73,554 weekend, its weakest weekend in its first 15 weekends of release. Thursday actuals placed it in 8th with a $10,000 opener. Its only admissions breakthrough was with Saturday pre-sales as it stumbled into the top 5 but it was shortlived. It never made the top 5 after that on its opening weekend. It capped off the week by bagging another $30,000+ and tallied $105,000 in 7 days. Early prediction for its total was in the $200,000-$300,000 range.
Adding another 4 theaters, 3 Idiots increased 7% and rose to #7 on its 2nd weekend. Thursday actuals saw it ease 30% from opening day but it made its first big impact on the weekend where it showed up in admissions on Saturday and Sunday. 2nd weekend Saturday pre-sales rose more than 32% and it nudged up another 3% on Sunday. After 11 days, it stood at $181,717.
Cinematheque entered the fray on 3 Idiots' 3rd weekend, upping the theater count to 14. 14 theaters would be the highest it would go though as it never played in more than 2 theater chains its whole run. 3 Idiots never let that stop it however, and it shot up 63% to $393,830. When Thursday actuals come in, its 3rd Thursday defeated its opening Thursday and it jumped 57%. On the weekend, 3 Idiots jumped more than 60% both days and it climbed another spot to #6 for the weekend. Its $9,125 PTA was its biggest at the time and 4th biggest of the weekend. Predictions for 3 Idiots' total just kept going up and now it was looking at more than a $550,000 finish.
Its first appearance in the top 5 would come on its 4th weekend. 7 new releases were vying for #1 but 3 Idiots also made a big impact on the charts. First, on Thursday, it surprised with a top 5 showing, its first time in the top 5 on a weekday. Friday turned out to be quite shocking as it grabbed #1 in admissions from the rest of the field. That carried on into the weekend as it pummeled the other films by increasing the biggest on Saturday then being the only film to increase on Sunday. Saturday and Sunday both captured more than 12,000 admissions setting a new single day admissions record for it again. The triumph in admissions didn't translate over into gross, however, and it slid to #4 overall with $161,516. It gained 26% from the previous week and it went up its 3rd weekend in a row. There were two questions looming on the horizon though: how would 3 Idiots fare with big competition out in its 5th week and could it increase for the entire month of September?
With uncertainty abound, it would still answer both those questions on Thursday. While Typhoon Nesat wreaked havoc on the city, it was believed that the typhoon would cause theaters to be empty as a high tropical warning signal usually paralyzes the city. People didn't care and they treated the rare typhoon-causing holiday like nothing happened and filled seats to pass the time. The top 5 films all enjoyed a nice boost from the day off but 3 Idiots, in particular, benefited a lot. It catapulted 164% from the previous Thursday in admissions and surged 169% in gross when Thursday actuals came in. Friday was still magical for 3 Idiots as it delivered yet another increase. National Day Saturday meant all films saw increases and 3 Idiots did just that with a 45% bump. Sunday was very impressive as well, gaining another 19%. For the weekend, 3 Idiots bounced up 33% to claim its new weekend record of $214,792 and nudged into the top 3 as well. It would pass a 10 multiplier in just 5 weeks. Another holiday surfaced on Wednesday and 3 Idiots shattered expectations once again. While all other movies in the top 5 saw drops from the Saturday holiday to the Wednesday holiday, 3 Idiots bucked the trend and actually rose 4%. That would push it past 1m and Australia's 3 Idiots gross.
3 Idiots' streak of increases would come to an end in its 6th weekend as it fell for the first time in 5 tries. With no holidays to inflate its grosses, 3 Idiots suffered a post-holiday fall but it decreased only 25%. It snuck in another weekend at #3, beating 33D Invader by less than $100 and had the best hold of any wide release. It would be its 3rd consecutive weekend over $10,000 PTA.
7th weekend yielded no big competition so this allowed 3 Idiots to increase again and it edged up 1%. It was its 5th increase in 6 times. It faced another tough question the following week: would it be able to survive the duo of Life Without Principle and You Are the Apple of My Eye?
3 idiots was no match for the duo but it dipped relatively light, down 26% after the top 2 openers made close to 2m. It lost one theater but it placed in the top 5 for the 5th straight week. After 2 months, it bested 1.5m. Its multiplier smashed 20x; it had already become the leggiest film of all time and yet it still was not close to being done.
On its 9th weekend, while many in the city were rushing to the theaters to watch Apple of My Eye, the weaker competition provided 3 Idiots with the catalyst to go up and it accomplished the feat by inching up 4%. It gained back the theater it lost the previous week and was in the blue for the 6th time in 8 undertakings. After 9 weeks, it attained a jaw-dropping 1.8m.
With a new month beginning, 3 Idiots started off November the right way pocketing another increase. It crept up 1% and passed The Green Hornet, Fast Five and Tangled. Although it increased, it fell out of the top 5, ending its streak of 6 consecutive weeks spent 5th or above.
It would retrieve its top 5 showing the following week when it ascended 9% on its 11th weekend. It reacquired its $10,000 PTA for the first time in a month and broke through the 2m mark. It also surpassed Himalaya Singh at this point.
9 new openers were released on 3 Idiots' 12th weekend including a new #1 but 3 Idiots dodged the carnage with a miniscule 14% drop. It kept its #4 ranking from the previous week and after 3 full months, it was already up to 2.33m.
The end of November brought about some new competition to 3 Idiots. Tintin opened tepidly and 3 Idiots took advantage, easing 8%. It also brought about some changes to the Bollywood film as this was its last weekend over $100,000, its 11th straight weekend to achieve this accomplishment. After 13 weeks, it was a shade under 2.5m.
The release of Arthur Christmas and 5 other movies did little to stop 3 Idiots. It bled 24% but it conquered UK's 3 Idiots total. Total after its 14th week stood at a phenomenal 2.6m.
The calm before the storm came on the December 8th weekend as 3 Idiots slipped 8%, ahead of the December 15th showdown, and moved above 2.7m. As much as 3 Idiots tried to help out, this turned out to be the slowest weekend in 4 years.
It rebounded off weekend lows the next week as Sherlock Holmes 2 and Mission Impossible 4 battled each other at the top for weekend supremacy. As a result, holdovers faced severe cuts including 3 Idiots. It fell sharply in comparison to the rest of its own drops but It was the only wide release that weekend to produce a 50% drop or less and retain most of its screens. While it did enjoy a pretty good hold, time was running out if it wanted to make 3m. It was already down to $37,807 in its 16th weekend and still $250,000 away from the big milestone. It was also losing theaters at this point so predictions for its total were sitting around 2.85-2.9m.
Christmas week summoned 4 new openers including Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 which all landed in the top 6. Due to the heavier competition, 3 Idiots forfeited its top 5 showing and fell to 7th. It also dropped down to 9 theaters and fell 10% for the weekend overall. Although it lost theaters and recessed slightly, 3 Idiots was believed to increase on Christmas week due to its long running time and its great strength on holidays. Its fall was a bit of a surprise but most still expected it to finish around 2.9m. One question that many pondered was how would 3 Idiots handle another Bollywood film called My Name is Khan in two weeks.
3 Idiots spent the final weekend of the year at #10 as it clung onto the last spot to claim its 18th consecutive weekend inside the top 10. It wormed its way up 1% from the previous week and surpassed Toy Story 3 for number of weeks in release.
19 weeks in and some people believed that Hollywood films weren't the solution to solving 3 Idiots but that Bollywood films would do the trick. After the immense success of 3 Idiots, UA films presented their exclusive Bollywood film My Name is Khan. For once, 3 Idiots would have to face an interesting dilemma, how would it be able to deal with another Bollywood film at a different theater chain? Well, it performed like normal. 3 Idiots finally fell out of the top 10 but cooled just 24%, putting the notion that another Bollywood film would give it fits and effectively render it dead to rest. It crossed 2.9m and only 2 questions remained for this film: would it cross 3m and would it be able to beat South Korea's 3 Idiots gross.
Tying Avatar's original run for number of weeks in release, 3 Idiots' 20th weekend put a dent into EDKO's hopes for a 3m dream finish. It halved its gross from the weekend before and went down to $13,297 from 7 theaters. It was slowly making its way to 2.95m but 3m prospects seemed dim at the moment. It would have to face the wrath of 9 new openers ahead of the Chinese New Year holidays in the upcoming week and losing half of your business when several big movies are expected to challenge for #1 do not inspire confidence for theater owners.
2 more theaters dropped 3 Idiots on CNY week and showtimes were cut severely for the new movies. Nevertheless, it moved past 2.96m but shockingly outperformed the rest of the holdovers by slipping only 38%, 8 percentage points better than My Name is Khan. In fact, those were the only 2 films, Bollywood as well, to decline less than 50%. 3m was now all of sudden looking that much brighter. It corralled about $13,000 for the 3-day holiday Monday-Wednesday and that put it past 2.975m. Its multiplier punched its way past 40x this week.
The effect of the holidays weren't just felt on the weekdays themselves but it extended into the weekend where Thursday was its biggest day for all films. It was not going to be denied another holiday decrease and served up a 45% gain instead. Its total now shifted to 2.987m and 3m turned into a lock.
While it did rise with the holidays, it couldn't overcome the theater loss and post holiday effect on movies and suffered its biggest fall of its entire run in its 23rd weekend, diving 57%. Some good news came out of it, however, it crawled its way to 3m.
It now played a full 6 months in theaters and 3 Idiots maintained its extremely mindblowing run, walking away with only a 13% drop.
3 Idiots fell a somewhat pedestrian 45% on its 25th weekend but it still had its sights aimed at South Korea's 3 Idiots gross. 3.014m was its total after 25 weeks.
2 more theaters took 3 Idiots out of rotation and with the theater loss, 3 Idiots did the best it could with the unfavourable conditions. It was left in only 1 theater but it still avoided the biggest drop of its run, slumping 54% and ending the weekend with 3.016m. It was $500 away from South Korea's 3 Idiots gross but whether it passed South Korea's gross would come down to EDKO.
Whether or not the theater chain knew about the huge accomplishment, they decided to let 3 Idiots run for one more week and added IFC back into the mix. With 2 theaters, 3 Idiots zoomed up 74% on its 27th weekend and completed its biggest task by becoming the biggest international market of 3 Idiots (North America notwithstanding).
In addition to those big milestones above, these is what 3 Idiots was able to produce in its run.
- top 15 finish; ranked #14 of 2011
- #1 in admissions on its 4th weekend
- 11 weeks in the top 5; longest consecutive streak: 6 weeks
- 18 consecutive weeks in the top 10 [2nd to Avatar's streak of 20]
- increased 11/27 weeks; longest streak: 4 weeks (at the beginning of its run)
- increased 8/10 weekends in its first 11 weeks
- it was the only film to post 4 consecutive weekend gains in recent memory
- it outperformed any other film's multiplier that year by at least 5x (not using previews as opening weekend gross)
- spent 5 weekends with over a $10,000 PTA
- 12 out of its first 13 weekends saw PTA's exceeded $8,000 or more
- had an 11 week run of weekends over $100,000
What makes the run of 3 Idiots so surprising and inspiring at the same time is that this came out almost 2 years after showing in other places with DVD releases already out. It also showed in a maximum of 14 theaters. It never got a wide release because this was only shown in EDKO theaters or also known as Broadway Circuit and AMC theatres. EDKO is also the distributor of the film meaning that it pretty much got limited engagements from being an "in-house" film. To put it another way, it only showed in 2/7 theater chains in HK. It also never had the distinction of placing in the top 2 for the weekend throughout its entire run and was the only film in the top 25 to do so. While we might see a run of Apple of My Eye's caliber in the distant future, this one will be hard pressed to match ever again.
Opening weekend - $73,554
2nd weekend - 7% increase with 6 new openers released, moves up to #7
3rd weekend - 63% increase, moves up to #6
4th weekend - 26% increase, moves into the top 5 (#4), 3rd increase in a row, $10,000+ PTA
5th weekend - 33% increase, enters top 3 (#3), 4th increase in a row, increased the entire month, passed 1m, beats Australia's gross, $10,000+ PTA, reached 10x multiplier
6th weekend - 25% post holiday drop, $10,000+ PTA
7th weekend - 1% increase, $10,000+ PTA
8th weekend - 26% drop with release of You Are the Apple of My Eye/Life Without Principle, passed 1.5m, reached 20x multiplier
9th weekend - 4% increase, 6 increases in 8 attempts, 6th consecutive weekend in top 5
10th weekend - 1% increase, 10 consecutive weeks in top 10, passed The Green Hornet, Fast Five and Tangled
11th weekend - 9% increase, $10,000+ PTA, passed 2m, passed Himalaya Singh
12th weekend - 14% drop with 9 new openers out
13th weekend - 8% drop with Tintin released; 11 straight $100,000+ weekends
14th weekend - 24% drop, passed 2.5m, beats UK's gross
15th weekend - 8% drop
16th weekend - 50% drop with release of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol/Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
17th weekend - fell 10% with release of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and 3 other new movies, [ties Toy Story 3 for number of weeks in release]
18th weekend - 1% increase, 18 consecutive weeks in top 10
19th weekend - 24% drop with My Name is Khan released
20th weekend - [ties Avatar for number of weeks in release]
21st weekend - 38% drop with 9 new openers including Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, one of only 2 films to fall less than 50%, reached 40x multiplier
22nd weekend - 45% increase
23rd weekend - passed 3m
24th weekend - 13% drop
25th weekend - 45% drop
26th weekend - ...
27th weekend - 74% increase, beats South Korea's gross