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November 12, 1999
Desi Directors Make History In 3 Continents
Arthur J Pais
In Japan, in United Kingdom and in North America, India-born movie directors made history last weekend as their films made it into the 20 highest grossing film lists.
At no time in movie history have any two India-born directors seen their films among the top 20 in the same week abroad.
Shekhar Kapur, Sooraj Barajatya and Madras-born Manoj Night Shyamalan saw their films in strong positions in three continents last week.
Barajatya, whose Hum Saath-Saath Hain was the 20th highest grossing film in North America, took $ 652,000 from 59 shows; it had an impressive $ 11,044 per cinema hall average -- way higher than any of the new Hollywood films on Daily Variety's top 60 film list.
At Number 8 on the list was Shyamalan's Sixth Sense, now in the 14th week, and with about a $ 3.2 million weekend gross. The psychological thriller, which declined by just about two per cent from the previous week, is headed for a $ 285 million gross in America. It is already among 10 all-time champs in America. The list is lead by the $ 620 million Titanic.
In Japan, Sixth Sense spooked the opposition and grabbed about $ 16 million in a full week while Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth, in its ninth week, ransomed a princely $ 700,000, heading for a potent $ 16 million. The Japanese are clearly more enamored of this film than those in England, who offered a strong, but not outstanding, $ 8 million.
Box-office pundits expect Sixth Sense to gross at least $ 60 million in Japan, and become one of the top hits of the year. The list is led by Star Wars: Episode I which has grabbed $ 120 million.
"The word of mouth is so strong for Sixth Sense in Japan as in other countries that it could remain among the top movies for several weeks wherever it is showing," says Walter Craven who monitors box-office for Hollywood news services.
Sixth Sense, which has grossed $ 100 million in a dozen countries opened in just nine cinema halls in England but took in a strong $ 450,000. It is expected to extend to more than 200 cinemas this weekend. It will soon be haunting Germany, France and most of Europe by the end of this month and is thus expected to outspook its domestic gross.
Curry was the flavor of the week across England last weekend too.
In UK, Hum Saath... was ranked the number 10 movie of the weekend with an estimated gross revenue of $ 178,750 (approximately 110,000 in British pounds). The family-oriented movie, released on 28 screens, could add on a few screens next week. Though its debut was described as strong by many observers, there were some who thought it had underperformed. The movie was expected to get over $ 250,000, some exhibitors felt.
One of the biggest hits last week across England was East Is East, dealing with the conflicts in an inter-racial family led by a Pakistani immigrant.
Starring Om Puri, East Is East was in the 5th place, earning about $ 800,000 in 79 fish and chips joints.
East Is East, based on an autobiographical play by Ayub Khan Din touched a wide core of audiences, unlike My Son the Fanatic, directed by Udayan Prasad, which had Puri playing a troubled cab driver in a decaying British city.
Both movies received favorable reviews. But while My Son... made a decent $ 300,000 during its entire run in England, East Is East is expected to make at least $ 1.2 million in the first week alone.
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