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Jawan: Bollywood Legend Shah Rukh Khan Dominates Worldwide Box Office

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan is brewing up a storm at the global box office with his latest film "Jawan."

Known throughout the world as the King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan is continuing his hot streak as 2023's undisputed box office champion. Earlier this year, the 57-year-old actor debuted "Pathaan," a spy thriller that took notes from Hollywood juggernauts like "Fast and Furious" and "Mission: Impossible." The action spectacle, directed by Siddharth Anand, emerged as the second-highest-grossing Hindi-language film of all time and managed to nab over $17 million stateside. In total, the film grossed $130 million worldwide, becoming Shah Rukh Khan's highest-grossing film by a wide margin. 

But Khan's takeover of the box office is just starting. September 7 saw the release of "Jawan," the latest export from India to light up the global box office. Starring Khan as a vigilante who attempts to fix the wrongs of Indian society, "Jawan" is breaking financial records left and right. The film had an opening day haul of $15.6 million, with over $10 million coming from India. "Pathaan," which previously held the record for the highest debut for a Hindi-language film, netted just shy of $13 million when it debuted in January earlier this year.

"Jawan," which enjoyed a four-day weekend in India, grossed over $29.5 million in its native country. Stateside, the film had an opening weekend haul of $6.2 million, giving it the #4 spot in the top 5 this weekend. Per ComScore (via Variety), "Jawan" is the second-highest-grossing film in the world, thanks to a $62.7 million global debut. The revenge-thriller came in just behind "The Nun II," which grossed $85.3 million globally. 

But seeing as the hype surrounding "Jawan" has just started, only time will tell how much Khan's latest will gross. 

Why is Jawan so popular?

With a global total shy of $63 million, "Jawan" has already emerged as the fourth highest-grossing Indian film of the year. In India, the film continues to create pandemonium, with sold-out shows throughout the nation. The Atlee-directed film had a historical fourth day at the box office, grossing over ₹ 71.63 cr, per analyst Sumit Kadel. Globally, the film is making major strides, proving that Shah Rukh Khan's dominance exists beyond India. With such strong receipts and positive hype surrounding the film, it's all but guaranteed that the film will emerge as one of the highest-grossing Indian films of the year. 

Does "Jawan" have what it takes to outgross "Pathaan," the highest-grossing Indian film of the year? Probably. As it stands, "Jawan" is already breaking the records and momentum that "Pathaan" set just earlier this year. Globally, "Jawan" is striking a chord, especially with the Indian diaspora, thanks in part to its relevant political themes and messaging. And while "Pathaan" was a crowd-pleaser, "Jawan" essentially deifies Khan as a larger-than-life being, making this a must-watch for even his most casual fans.

Beyond that, the film marks the Bollywood debut of veteran Tamil-language director Atlee, a famed filmmaker who has a rabid fanbase of his own. "Jawan" stands out as a film engineered to have as much mass appeal as popular, across all of India. Take to social media and prospective viewers will find audiences cheering as the film introduces Khan's morally grey character. Or, perhaps, they'll be surprised to see cinemas turn into stadiums as Khan dances to the first film's song. From a box office perspective, "Jawan" is more than a film — it's a cultural movement, not unlike this year's "Barbenheimer" where heading to cinemas became a must-do social event.

How far can Jawan's box office run go?

Stateside, "Jawan" has a long way to go before it can outgross the $17 million total of "Pathaan," but it definitely is possible if momentum continues. The rest of September is relatively barren, giving "Jawan" an upper hand with domestic audiences. After the Oscar-winning success that was "RRR," Western audiences are far more inclined to check out India's action offerings. Besides "The Equalizer 3," (which "Jawan" outgrossed globally this weekend) audiences do not have much in terms of action-centric fare until Megan Fox's "The Expend4bles."

In India, it's all but guaranteed that the literal mania surrounding "Jawan" will propel it to the number one spot at the box office. The real question is: how far can "Jawan" go? The film is no doubt front-loaded, thanks in part to the fandom that Khan and director Atlee command. The film should effortlessly cross the ₹1050.3 crores ($130 million USD) mark by the end of the month as it has little to no competition to deal with. Currently, the film is facing slight pushback from the Sunny Deol-starring "Gadar 2" and the Rajnikanth epic "Jailer." While "Jawan" will outgross both films, $81 million USD and $76 million USD hauls, respectively, it will be interesting to see if the two other blockbusters can hold their own in the coming days. 

For Khan, the success of "Jawan" is another win after "Pathaan." The actor will walk away with two of the highest-grossing films of the year, and if "Jawan" can touch the $150 million USD mark — an increasingly realistic scenario, then he'll have his latest stand tall in the top 3 Indian films of all time. Can lightning strike thrice? The actor is also set to debut an immigration-focused social drama titled "Dunki" later this year. 

"Jawan" is playing in cinemas now.