Shah Rukh Khan's spy thriller, "Pathaan," has generated around ₹465 crore in nett box office collections in India and is approaching the ₹900 crore mark in worldwide gross collections since its January 25th release. In just three weeks, the film produced by Yash Raj Films with a reported budget of ₹250 crore, is closing in on the collections of the Hindi version of "Baahubali: The Conclusion," which holds the record as the highest grossing film in the domestic market at ₹510.99 crore. Directed by Siddharth Anand, "Pathaan" marks Shah Rukh Khan's return to the big screen after his previous film, "Zero," failed at the box office in 2018 with collections of ₹196 crore.

Although SRK's movie has surpassed the domestic collections of Aamir Khan's "Dangal," Ronnie Screwvala, the founder and producer of RSVP, commented in a now deleted tweet that "Just to be very factual and clear, 'Dangal' is and will remain the highest-grossing Hindi movie globally, having earned over ₹1200 crore in China alone. Just so we keep the record straight." Screwvala made this statement in response to trade analyst Taran Adarsh's figures for "Pathaan," which were touted as the highest-grossing Hindi film ever. Dangal's worldwide box office collection is the highest-ever for an Indian film at over ₹2,200 crore, followed by Baahubali 2 (₹1,810 crore), RRR (₹1,258 crore) and KGF 2 (₹1,250 crore).

Sanjeev Kumar Bijli, joint managing director of PVR Cinemas, told Fortune India that the movie has been a money spinner. "It has been a phenomenal success. Week one was very strong. We had about 70% occupancy for the country in our chain and the second week it must have been around 50%," says Bijli. PVR, which recently got clearance from the NCLT for the merger with Inox, has cornered over ₹110 crore of Pathaan's collections, while Inox raked in ₹80 crore. The merged entity, to be known as PVR-INOX, will become the largest film exhibition company in India, with 1,546 screens across 109 cities.

However, "Pathaan" may lose steam in the coming week as two big releases, "Shehzada" starring Kartik Aaryan and "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," are scheduled for release. "It's difficult to say what will happen because these days, most of the business comes in the first and second weeks. This is a natural trend for any movie as the number of shows tend to decrease from the third week onwards, especially if big releases are slated for the weekend," says Bijli.

Though there have been rumours of the BO collections being overstated, Bijli says, "There is no reason to believe that they're not correct as these are genuine numbers coming from actual ticket sales and it's all computerised, tracked on a daily and weekly basis by some very credible sources."

Deepshikha Deshmukh, producer at Pooja Entertainment and founder of Love Organically, concurs with Bijli's views. "Pathaan has done wonders for the industry by putting an end to the boycott narrative. I was thrilled to see a large crowd come back to the theaters, even in a place like Latur where I watched the movie. As for the controversy surrounding the collections and ticket sales, it's a small industry and everyone knows what's really happening. The size and locations in the movie demonstrate that India is producing great content at an affordable price and is competing with global standards in many ways," Deshmukh tells Fortune India. Her brother-in-law, Riteish Deshmukh's debut Marathi film, "Ved," has also proven to be a hit, raking in over ₹70 crore on a budget of ₹10 crore.

In line with the trend of large-budget films, Pooja Entertainment is set to release "Bade Miyan, Chote Miyan," directed by Ali Abbas Zafar and starring Akshay Kumar, Tiger Shroff, and Prithviraj Sukumaran. With an estimated production cost of ₹120 crore and fees for Akshay Kumar, Tiger Shroff, and Ali Abbas Zafar, the overall budget is estimated to be in the range of ₹350-400 crore, making it one of the most expensive Hindi films to date. "It's an action-comedy film and one of the biggest movies that the industry has produced till date…a lot is riding on it," says Deshmukh. The cumulative domestic box office collection for Bollywood movies in 2022 crossed ₹10,000 crore last year, and it's quite likely that 2023 could see a new record high.

Karan Taurani, analyst at Elara Capital, points out that in Hindi content, small/medium budget films continue to struggle with dismal collections as dependence on large scale Hindi, English and regional films continue to increase. Incidentally, the Avatar sequel has reported net collections of ₹400 crore (all languages), making it the highest grossing English film in the country till date.

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