In Part 2 of this Ilayathalapathy Vijay birthday special, we take an inside look at his zooming popularity in the overseas space. Kaushik LM speaks to a couple of noted trade experts in the UK and US to gauge his overseas pull.
Ajay – Kolly Empire, UK Box-Office Analyst
“Tamil cinema in the UK first gained its strong popularity and momentum in 2007, with Ajith’s Kireedom releasing in 5 locations and grossing approx £45,000. At that time, the UK market for Tamil films wasn’t strong enough when we compare it to the likes of Malaysia/US. However, with the release of Sivaji (which grossed approx £396,500), the UK was finally given its place on the map.
2008 was a quiet year (in the UK) but 2009 is when we first started to see Vijay’s entrance in the UK market. Vettaikaran released in 2009, grossing roughly £44,000 in the opening weekend. Even though the movie was a flop in most markets, it was considered an “okay” venture in the UK at the time. Villu released later that year grossing over £100,000 (a feat which releases in 2015/16 have struggled to attain). After the blockbuster Sivaji, Vijay comfortably took the #2 position in the UK thanks to those recent releases.
2010 was the year for Rajinikanth. Endhiran/Robot released to a ginormous response, grossing over £750,000 (both versions) – and still remains #1 in the UK today.
2011 onwards is where Vijay really took control of the market. With multiple releases in the year, box office collections were adding up rapidly and he slowly began to capture all audiences across the UK. His 2011 releases Kaavalan and Velayudham grossed over £280,000 (the highest combined total for that year for any actor!)
2012 was again Vijay’s year – massively surpassing the previous year in terms of collections. Nanban grossed approx £222,000 and Thuppakki over £213,000 – a total of over £435,000 – again, the highest combined total for that year for any actor.
2013 was Thalaivaa, grossing £240,000 – 2nd highest for that year after Vishwaroopam.
2014 was the year Vijay’s market exploded hugely, and arguably, this is the year Vijay held the #1 spot comfortably in terms of total box office revenue and consistency. Releases Jilla and Kaththi grossed over £575,000 together. It must also be noted that both of Rajinikanth’s releases in 2014 – Kochadaiiyaan and Lingaa performed disappointingly, allowing Vijay to move up higher in the rankings to claim the top spot.
Puli in 2015 grossed only slightly over £200,000 – Vijay’s first complete disappointment since 2011. With the movie being sold for a record price tag (at the time), expectations were sky high – and those expectations were not met.
When everyone thought Vijay had lost his “star power” or box-office potential in the UK – he came back with the Blockbuster Theri in 2016. Theri grossed over £403,000 – passing ‘I’ and Sivaji, thus becoming the Alltime #2 – a fantastic and remarkable achievement. The film was considered a massive Blockbuster for Ayngaran – and went on to run in locations for over 4 weeks in the UK (which is a hugely rare feat in this day and age as most movies only run for 1-2 weeks if lucky).
When put into comparison with all the other stars and their box office totals in the UK – Vijay currently has a 30% control/market share in the UK (Rajini in #2 with 20%). Despite the poor Puli, he soared back with Theri, rightfully claiming the top spot yet again in a convincing manner.
Vijay is the highest grossing actor in the UK. If we add up all collections from his releases, the total exceeds £2.5M (in the space of 8 years). When we look at the “average box office gross” per movie statistics – Vijay is #2 with an average of £275,000 – just underneath Rajinikanth’s £315,000.
With a super impressive Theri, all eyes are on ‘Vijay 60‘. We’ll have to wait and see how it fares.”
ATMUS Entertainment – US Distributors
“Vijay’s movie overseas prices are next only to Rajini in Tamil. In Canada, UK and other European countries with a heavy Sri Lankan Tamil population, Vijay rules, again next only to Rajini. In USA, Vijay’s films do business next to Rajini and Kamal.
In North America, he is the only hero after Rajini and Kamal, to have done movies in Tamil with over $1M gross. Kaththi and Theri have done over $1M in North America (Kaththi was not reported from Canada, if it were reported it would have been more than $1M for sure).”
A star well and truly in control of the box-office, all over. Best wishes to Ilayathalapathy Vijay, for more successful years ahead as he enters the prime phase of his super-stardom.
Interviewed by Kaushik LM