With the market for Hollywood films in India consistently growing, what lessons can Indian filmmakers learn?
Ours is the largest film industry in the world in terms of the volume of releases annually, clearly establishing that Indians love the movies. It is this very passion for films that has the most famous film industry in the world, Hollywood, now taking the Indian market very seriously. Earlier this year, we saw many Hollywood biggies churn out impressive numbers at the Indian box office, giving our films a run for their money.
Ever since the surge in box-office numbers for Hollywood releases a few years ago, the West has been very upbeat about India. According to a report co-authored by the Motion Picture Association, India is in fact the fifth-strongest overseas market for Hollywood releases after China, Japan, the United Kingdom and France.
Why, the potential is so great that there have been times when English films have released in India even before they have released in the US, while some Hollywood films enjoy a simultaneous release on both continents.
The recent and biggest example is The Jungle Book, which clocked massive business in India and broke many records. Soon after that, Captain America: Civil War garnered impressive numbers. Other films like The Conjuring 2, Batman Vs Superman and X Men – Apocalypse, too have garnered impressive numbers at the ticket counter.
Many a time, Hollywood films are dubbed not only in Hindi but in regional languages too, breaking the language barrier with the audience. This formula is working so well that in regional markets, local stars are being roped in by corporate houses for regional dubbed versions of Hollywood films. And where the audience goes, money flows. Evidently, this is the magic mantra for English films to get even more popular across India, and Hollywood filmmakers are milking this opportunity with their interesting marketing plans for India as well.
However, returning to the competition between Hollywood and Bollywood films, we will see many biggies battling it out at the ticket window next year. Interestingly, now even the Hollywood studios have planned their releases so that they do not to clash with our Hindi biggies. Is it possible for the two big film industries to coexist in the Indian market?
Bearing out these findings, the year 2016 has been very profitable for Hollywood releases, with Bollywood releases taking a dip in their ROI. Now on the threshold of an impressive line-up of Hollywood releases for 2017, the question on everyone’s mind is – will their films affect ours in the coming year?
Interestingly, 2017 will see an array of successful Hollywood sequels and franchises releasing in India. More specifically, of the 52 weeks in 2017, nearly 30 of them will see big Hollywood franchises and sequels. Not just that. Since most big Hollywood films are dubbed in regional languages, these films have high expectations in the regional space too.
The year will kickstart with the January release XXX: The Return Of Xander Cage, which marks the Hollywood debut of our very own Deepika Padukone, who features alongside Vin Diesel. Next up, we will see Hugh Jackman’s Logan superhero film featuring the Marvel character Wolverine. Priyanka Chopra-starrer Baywatch too will hit the screens next year, where the actress features alongside Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron.
The other Hollywood sequels that will entertain the Indian audience next year are: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, T2: Trainspotting, Fast 8, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, World War Z 2, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Despicable Me 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming, War For The Planet Of The Apes, Alien: Covenant, Insidious: Chapter 4, Thor: Ragnarok and Star Wars: Episode VII.
This week, we spoke to the film fraternity about the strong Hollywood line-up in 2017. Will these films compromise the box-office returns of our films? Here’s what they had to say:
In 2016, Hollywood movies did great business at the Indian box office as viewers connected well with the high scale and entertaining content coming from Hollywood. We received an incredible response for our movies like Deadpool, Kung Fu Panda 3, X Men: Apocalypse, Independence Day: Resurgence, Ice Age 5 etc from both the audience and exhibitors. In 2017, too, Fox Star Studios has slated some exciting, big-ticket Hollywood titles like Logan, The Kingsman: The Golden Circle, War For The Planet Of The Apes and Alien: Covenant, which will definitely have a huge impact on the box office. With 52 weeks in a year, there will be many instances where we will witness some clashes with our Indian cinema, but eventually there’s enough room for films from both industries, and the audience will benefit as they will have ample choice for entertainment.
The Indian audience has grown increasingly accepting and appreciative of English movies over the last few years. We have witnessed this with some of our extremely successful movies in the last few years – whether Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Disney-Pixar’s Inside Out (2015), Finding Dory (2016) and Disney’s The Jungle Book (2016).
Of course, The Jungle Book was an overwhelming hit and was loved across the country in multiple languages. Here was an English film which went on to become not just the highest grossing English films of all time in India, but also one of the highest grossing films across languages in 2016.
The year 2017 is indeed very exciting for us, from that perspective. Our slate is full of universally loved fairytales coming alive in live action movies (Disney’s Beauty And The Beast), some class action from the House of Marvel (Guardians of The Galaxy and Thor Ragnarok) and quintessential Disney franchises – both live action (Pirates of The Caribbean) and animation (Pixar’s Cars 3)
What’s interesting for us is that Hollywood has carved a space for itself in the Indian cinema-goers’ schedule and expanded his repertoire. While local and regional cinema continues to enjoy a strong run at the India box office, the Indian audience is definitely more discerning and now exposed to quality cinema which they enjoy and go out to watch. The rising demand for Hollywood movies creates healthy competition in the market and gives more power to the audience. It’s an exciting phase for one to be an Indian cinema-goer.
It is a misconception that Hollywood is eating into Indian films’ share at the box office. We keep hearing about that without realising that Hollywood is also helping grow the market. One of the key elements of growth in the exhibition sector has been the rise in the number of 3D screens in Tier 2 cities, which has been propelled by a growing demand of Hollywood films that are in 3D, in those sectors.
This has, in turn, contributed to the overall Indian box office revenue, year on year. We firmly believe that there is enough space for more than one film to release at a time and, more importantly, it is content that drives the audience.
The Hollywood slate for 2017 in India is likely to set new box-office records with a number of highly successful titles releasing their sequels. It will be an exciting year for us at Sony Pictures Entertainment as well. Our Hollywood portfolio/slate has some of the biggest franchises hitting cinemas, led by Spider-man: Home Coming, Jumanji, Smurfs: The Lost Village, Insidious: Chapter 4 and Resident Evil: The Last Chapter. For the first time, an iconic brand like Barbie will be converted into live action entertainment and the ‘Emoticons’ in our phones will come alive through the first-ever Emoji Movie.
Good content will get audiences to cinemas, that’s the thumb rule and that should be a collective target for the industry – whether Hindi, English or regional cinema.