If it was a battle between Bollywood and Baahubali 2, Baahubali 2 won. What’s more, it won with a wide margin. And not only in India, Baahubali 2 has gone where no Indian films have gone till now — right to the top of charts of the US box office records. Wall Street Journal called it India’s Stars Wars and is wondering how an Indian superhero film defeated Hollywood competitors at the box office. Variety reported how the $81.8 million debut at US box office by Baahubali 2 put it in third place behind Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, and The Fate of the Furious, and is a score three times that of fourth placed Baby Boss.
Greg Foster, CEO of IMAX described himself as “stunned” by Baahubali 2 performance, “When you have full houses on Thursday night, on something that was unbelievably viral in how the information was disseminated to the Indian diaspora, you’re tapping into something.” It was the all-time biggest domestic IMAX opening for a foreign-language film. SS Rajamouli film also had the third-largest opening for a foreign-language film in US history (Chinese films Hero in 2004 and Jet Li’s Fearless in 2006 rank ahead).
But despite the film reaching $16 million earning at US box office, the film has remained an Indian phenomenon. There has been a complete absence of reviews in media which are not Indian. WSJ quotes film’s US distributor as saying, “Critics on Yahoo or Rotten Tomatoes, or somewhere. I haven’t seen anything like that.” Interestingly, on Rotten Tomatoes — the review aggregator — Baahubali 2 had a 92% audience score and no rating from critics. While two foreign organisations gave rating to the film, it was still not enough to get it overall critic rating. Its huge success on IMAX could not help it being replaced by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 the very next week on almost all the screens.
The S S Rajamouli-directed film features elaborate fight sequences and computer graphics including rampaging elephants and a bull stampede.
The movie was dubbed into Hindi and other regional Indian languages and has sparked a wave of Baahubali mania across the country as fans flock to cinemas to find out how the series ends after the first film finished in a cliffhanger. Baahubali: The Beginning made around $100 million in worldwide ticket sales when it was released in 2015, according to industry estimates.
The combined cost of making the two movies was about $70 million, according to estimates, well below the budgets for major Hollywood films.