‘Slumdog Millionaire’ takes million rands in South African opening

March 12th, 2009 - 10:11 am ICT by IANS  

By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, March 12 (IANS) Following its recent sweep at the Oscars, “Slumdog Millionaire” raked in more than a million rands after opening at 20 cinemas across South Africa this past weekend.

The Mumbai-based movie by British filmmaker Danny Boyle grossed over 1.4 million on its opening weekend, playing to sold out houses and clinching the number one spot in the hearts of moviegoers everywhere.

Lining up against Hollywood hit “Watchmen”, the other high-profile opener over the weekend, “Slumdog Millionaire” made 22 percent more at the box office with 68 percent less prints than “Watchmen”.

At a print average of just over 70,000 rands, “Slumdog Millionaire” more than doubled the print average of “As it is in Heaven”, the most successful film of all time in South Africa.

“It is rare to find a film that is both a critical and commercial success, but ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ has gone into this unique millionaire’s club,” Isabel Rao, chief executive of major cinema group Ster-Kinekor Distribution, told IANS.

“This is a film that overcame its ‘art/niche’ label and went on to perform commercially to audiences everywhere.”

Rao said Slumdog Millionaire was the top film at the South African box-office, on all circuits - art and commercial.

“The film’s success epitomises the communal interaction of moviegoing and its unique ability to transcend cultural barriers makes it truly a ‘one-in-a-million’ success story.”

Rao expressed the hope that this success of a film about life in Mumbai would also encourage audiences across all communities in South Africa to watch more Indian movies as well: “We hope the film’s success also serves to inspire audiences to sample Indian cinema more broadly.”

Ster-Kinekor has been screening Bollywood movies for nearly a decade now at its cinemas across the country, but has become more selective in recent years, opting only for some of the best titles.

However, the support has come mainly from the South African Indian community and Indian expatriates here, with a sprinkling of interest from Black and White patrons.

Two of the bigger titles screened here last year were “Jodhaa Akbar”, which grossed 289,000 rands on its opening weekend, and the highly-acclaimed Aamir Khan film “Taare Zameen Par”, which only grossed 51,000 rands on its opening weekend but went on to do much better.

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