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|August 1, 2001||
Despite less than enthusiastic reviews and threat of pirated DVDs and videos, Subhash Ghai, the showman, scored a big one in North America and Britain.
Yaadein also had a very strong opening in UK, where it earned $ 190,000 on just about 18 screens and landed the number seven spot among films showing in that country.
Yaadein now has the second highest opening for a Hindi film in UK. Last year, director Aditya Chopra's Mohabbatein earned $ 352,000 in its first weekend.
The success of Yaadein once again emphasises the fact that the desi audience tastes in the West are often different from those in India.
Two weeks ago, Ghai made a 48-hour visit to New York, thereby reiterating that the North American market has become as important as any individual film distribution territory in India.
For the record, Yaadein's box office gross is the second highest opening for a Hindi film in North America. The honour for the top Hindi film belongs to another family drama, director Sooraj Barjatya's Hum Saath Saath Hain, which earned $ 655,000 over the 1999 Diwali weekend.
Tips Music Films released Yaadein on 56 screens across North America, giving it a per screen average of $ 11,529. HSSH's per screen average was slightly lower -- $ 11,044. Two years ago, Eros Entertainment released Ghai's Taal on 44 screens.
At $ 13,438, Taal's per screen average record in North America has yet to be broken.
Earlier this weekend, the two large desi multiplexes in the US: Cine Plaza in North Bergen, New Jersey, and Naz 8 in Freemont, California, were all geared up for the crowds that were expected to show up for Yaadein.
Gautam Shah of Cine Plaza dedicated all his 13 screens to Yaadein. For Saturday and Sunday, Cine Plaza had 13 shows of the film, starting at 1130 hrs -- a new show every hour.
"No one will be disappointed," a Cine Plaza ad said on a local desi television station. Two years ago, Shah made history by opening all the 13 screens of his theatre (then known as Regal Cinema) to Taal.
Naz 8 Cinema also prepared for the long lines of Hindi film lovers in the San Francisco Bay Area. During the weekend, all its eight screens were showing Yaadein, with a show starting every half hour. That added up to 21 shows each day, on Saturday and Sunday.
Shiraj Jivani of Naz 8 said that approximately 12,500 people saw the film.
On Saturday, Jivani's theatre had to compete with a live Hindi film star show which features the likes of Akshay Kumar, Sunil Shetty and Urmila Matondkar.
"Approximately 3,000 to 4,000 people attended that show, otherwise we would have more people come by to see Yaadein," says Jivani. "Last year, Mohabbatein clocked in a record attendance at Naz 8, with 17,000 people catching the romantic musical in the first week.
By Monday, the pirated DVDs of Yaadein had already hit the market," Jivani adds.
"There is a Deep Bazaar here, only about two blocks from my theatre," he says. "He (the owner) has about 1,600 DVDs in front of the store. He is selling them for $ 10.95 and people are buying them."
During his visit to New York, Ghai made a special plea to the audience in North America not to purchase the pirated DVDs of Yaadein.
"We are very hurt when we find that people see our motion picture which is made for the cinema hall, they see it on DVD, before it is officially released," Ghai said two weeks before the release of his film. "My request is to the buyer. Please do not abuse your sensibility and don't insult the filmmakers by watching a big film on a small screen."
Meanwhile, the last major release of this year producer/ actor Aamir Khan's Lagaan is still going strong in North America. The film has grossed approximately $ 900,000 and is currently showing on 18 screens in smaller cities.
"We are hoping to make the $ 1 million number," Charu Benegal, of Sony Entertainment Television, says.
Lagaan has also been a huge hit in the United Kingdom where, last weekend, it was number 14 among films showing in that country.
Lagaan's total gross in the UK is $ 713,000.
The only other desi film to make the mark this year was actually a non-Hindi cinema product. Director Piyush Dinker Pandya's American Desi, shot and produced in the US, was the surprise hit this spring. Its box office gross reached close to $ 900,000, before the pirated DVDs and videotapes of the film hit the market.
Other Hindi films to make their mark in North America in 2001 include director Suneel Darshan's Ek Rishtaa - The Bond Of Love The film grossed approximately $ 300,000 and was marked by superstar Amitabh Bachchan's strong performance.
Bachchan's last film, Aks - The Reflection, did not go well with the moviegoers in North America. Its total box office did not reach the $ 200,000 level and the film's official DVD was out in the market within a week of its release on July 13, 2001.
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