2019 is fast becoming one of the most compelling years for local films at the box office since 2016. The year begun with the runaway success that was Matwetwe. Armed with a fresh cast, fresh setting and a contemporary storyline, the movie was not only a critical success but a financial one too, debuting within the top 5 and being a top 10 mainstay for just over a month. The ground-breaking film ignited much-needed excitement for Kasi films by becoming one of the first primarily vernac films to sail past the R5 million threshold at the local box office. Matwetwe’s success serves as the tip of the iceberg as Kandasamys: Wedding not only makes one of the grandest entrances in local film history but sets a string of new records in the process.
Bolstered by the long Easter weekend, Kandasamys: Wedding debuted atop the box office with a staggering sum of R5.7M, the largest opening weekend sum for a local film this decade. With this feat, Kandasamys: Wedding becomes the first local chart-topper since Schucks: Pay Back The Money topped the charts 4 years ago. Even when figures are adjusted for inflation, Kandasamys narrowly arrives second only to Long Walk to Freedom, the British-South African film’s opening sum of R4.4m in 2013 would translate to R5.8m today. Moreso Kandasamys boasts the most lucrative opening average per screen in 2019 thus far, averaging a R110K yield across 51 screens. This feat will likely be surpassed this weekend with the release of the titanic Avengers: Endgame. To put things into perspective, the last film to yield higher averages was Endgame’s predecessor, Infinity War when it averaged a mammoth R169K average within its opening weekend. What these averages speak to is the level of turnout for the films, ie the cinemas that hosted Kandasamys this weekend were the most packed they have been this year. Below are some more interesting records surrounding Kandasamys stunning opening turn.
South Africa’s Greatest Opening Weekend Figures in 2010s, adjusted for inflation
- Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013) – R4 431 230 original, R5 820 905.68 adjusted [No. 1 debut]
- Kandasamys: Wedding (2019) – R5 725 908. [No. 1 debut]
- Schucks Tshabalala Guide to SA (2010) – R3 557 846 original, R5 593 780.54 adjusted [No. 1 debut]
- Vir Altyd (2016) – R4 727 474 original, R5,443,460.73 adjusted [No. 2 debut and peak]
- Schucks! Pay Back The Money (2015) – R4 279 736 original, R5 102 585.35 adjusted [No. 1 debut]
- Schucks! Your Country Needs You! (2013) – R3 653 871 original, R4 799 759.54 adjusted [No. 2 debut behind Long Walk, rose to No. 1]
- Spud (2010) – R2 878 332 original, R4 443 600.17 adjusted [No. 1 debut]
- Pad Na Jou Hart (2014) – R3 149 843 original, R4 009 547.86 adjusted [No. 1 debut]
- Jock (2011) – R2 486 548 original, R3 685 004.38 adjusted [No. 1 debut]
- Liefling (2010) – R1 924 309 original, R2,987,388.80 adjusted [No. 1 debut]
Notable Opening Weekend Screen Averages in 2018/19.
- Infinity War, R168 531 average per screen.
- Black Panther, R123 625 average per screen.
- Kandasamys: Wedding, R110 117 average per screen.
- Aquaman, R93 964 average per screen.
- Matwetwe, R57 691 average per screen.
- What Men Want, R55 286 average per screen.
- Stroomop, R44 690 average per screen
- Us, R34 281 average per screen
High Local Film Averages this Decade
- Kandasamys: Wedding, R110 117 average per screen
- Vir Altyd, R66 586 average per screen (R76 670 adjusted for inflation)
- Pad Na Jou Hart, R55 261 average per screen (R70 343.70 adjusted for inflation)
- Broken Promises 4 Ever, R68 654 average per screen
- Keeping Up With The Kandasamys, R61 438 average per screen (R66 598 per screen adjusted)
- Long Walk to Freedom, R50 531 average per screen (R66,378.00 adjusted for inflation)
- Matwetwe, R57 691 average per screen
The success of both Kandasamys and Matwetwe speak to a progression in South African films and filmmakers, the development of box-office brand success outside of Leon Schuster. Kandasamys: Wedding is the highly anticipated sequel to the 2017 smash Keeping Up with The Kandasamys whilst Matwetwe is Kagiso Lediga’s directorial follow up to the critically-acclaimed, Netflix acquired Catching Feelings. Like Ivan Botha and Donnalee Roberts are to Afrikaans romance films (see Pad Na Jou Hart/Vir Altyd/Stroomop), Jayan Moodley and Lediga are becoming brands of their own at the local box-office who are growing their own respective audiences. This type of growth makes one excited to see how the likes of Thabang Moleya may continue the trend when Happiness is Love, the sequel to Happiness is a Four Letter Word, drops. If 2016 was a landmark year in cementing the appetite for local films at the cinema outside of Schuster with box office successes of films like Vir Altyd, Happiness is a Four Letter Word and Mrs. Right Guy, then 2019 acts as the sequel to show us that blockbuster success for South African films is on the horizon.