The Tamil film industry witnessed a box office clash for the ages on Wednesday, as two major releases fought for screens and fan attention during Pongal celebrations. And Thalapathy Vijay’s family entertainer Varisu (marginally) edged out Thala Ajith’s action film Thunivu.
Directed by Vamshi Paidipally, early estimates suggest that Varisu grossed Rs 26.5 crore on day one of release, across India. Thunivu grossed Rs 26 crore.According to industry data tracker Sacnilk, the film made Rs 17 crore in Tamil Nadu, Rs 5 crore in Karnataka, Rs 3.5 crore in Kerala and merely Rs 1 crore from other territories.
On day one of release, the film garnered approximately 67% occupancy, which increased during the day. Morning shows saw 55.6% occupancy, afternoon shows saw 68.6% occupancy; in the evening, the occupancy increased to 72.4%, and night shows witnessed 71.2% occupancy. The film has already pre-sold tickets worth more than Rs 7 crore for day two.
Chennai saw a phenomenal 98% occupancy, while Puducherry witnessed 100% occupancy through the day. By comparison, the National Capital Region could only muster 16% occupancy. Vijay needs a win. His last release, the similarly hyped Beast, made a boatload of money at the box office, but was also very expensive to produce. The poor reviews didn’t help either.
Varisu outperformed Thunivu in Australia on opening day, with Rs 80 lakh, as compared to Thunivu’s Rs 33 lakh. But Thunivu made more than Varisu in the UAE – Rs 1.6 crore versus Rs 1.4 crore, respectively — and in the US, where it made Rs 2.2 crore, as compared to Varisu’s Rs 1.2 crore.
In recent years, the dominance of South Indian films has been felt across India, with hits such as RRR and Kantara. But one other thing has been noticed as well: it is difficult to manufacture pan-Indian success. Varisu’s numbers suggest that the film can only gain steam in the north through word of mouth. But reviews have been mixed so far.
The Indian Express’ Kirubhakar Purushothaman gave the film three out of five stars, and wrote in his review, “Director Vamshi Paidipally has made a film with a screenplay that comes across as a product of an algorithm that has been fed with keywords: ‘Vijay mass moments’, ‘four fights’, ‘extravagant songs’, ‘masala’, ‘mom-son sentiment’, and ‘Jagapathi Babu’.”