‘Thugs of Hindostan’ failed to attract Chinese audiences
Published: Dec 29, 2018 01:10 PM

Photo: VCG


Indian star Aamir Khan’s new movie, “Thugs of Hindostan”, failed to win over the Chinese market with a poor opening Friday night, resulting in 10.74 million yuan ($1.56 million) at the box office. According to Chinese movie ticketing platform Maoyan, the movie is estimated to get in only 96.1 million yuan, possibly the worst of Aamir Khan’s movie performance in China. His movie is competing with Hollywood movies “Aquaman” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider- Verse” and Chinese movies “Kill Mobile” and “Master Z: The IP Man Legacy”. 

Due to its disappointing performance in India, the Indian movie star had hope that his large number of followers in China, who nicknamed him Mi Shu or Uncle Mi, would pull through.

Although making an all-time record on its opening day with $7.83 million nett, the movie witnessed a significant slump due to its poor reputation, only grabbing $30 million in the Indian market. 

The Chinese market has been seen as a chance to recover the movie’s huge budget of $47 million, the most expensive Bollywood movie. Making full use of his influence in China, he not only produced a special Chinese edition but also started his Chinese tour almost two weeks before the movie’s premiere. 

From South to North, from East to West, he had visited a number of key Chinese cities including Guangzhou, Xi’an, Nanjing and Shanghai. He even spent Christmas Eve with Chinese moviegoers for the movie’s Chinese premiere. He used various ways from taking selfies with fans to showing his Chinese handicrafts to please Chinese audiences. 

However, on Chinese movie sites Douban and Mtime, it only got 6.2 and 6.6 out of 10, the lowest rating among all of Uncle Mi’s movies. Some users on the sites who gave out one star of five claimed that it was a “waste of time to watch this movie”, “such a bad movie that even Indians don’t like it, how can you expect the Chinese to love it” and “knockoff version of Pirates of the Caribbean.” 

It is no better on the international social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which are full of criticism toward the weak storyline and poor directing. 

“Hope my Chinese friends read reviews of the movie before watching it. It is a disaster. Don’t waste your valuable RMB. It’s not worth it,” tweeted user Vyshak Vitobha to Global Times’ official Twitter account on Wednesday. 

According to many Chinese movie critics, the failure of the movie in the Chinese market didn’t come from nowhere. “People are kind of tired of Indian movies in China, which have already seen nine movies this year,”a movie critic who wanted to stay anonymous told the Global Times on Saturday. “He (Aamir Khan) couldn’t save the fate of such a bad movie with his fame. It is hard for Chinese audiences to echo on some plots in the movie due to lack of the knowledge of Indian history. Besides, the bad reputation in India has more or less brought some influences to Chinese audiences.” 

According to Indian media reports, Khan has added, removed and re-ordered a number of scenes to meet Chinese audiences’ taste with a “more compact, straightforward plot.” The Indian mainstream movie tells a story of how Indian bandits known as Thugs fight against the occupying British East India Company.

Besides, in the 120-minute version, 44 minutes shorter than the Indian version, Khan’s character sees more screen time instead of the original balanced screen time of the three main characters. 

But Chinese audiences didn’t buy these changes by giving lower scores for it. “The actor has never been the decisive answer behind a movie. And you are not Depp,” commented a Douban user Shamozhongdeximeng, or Simon in the Desert. 

“Please never introduce such a bad movie to China again. Otherwise, the reputation of Bollywood will be ruined in the Chinese market,” added Douban user Sangezizunxinqiang, who gave one star out of five to the movie.