New Delhi: Disney’s romantic fantasy musical Beauty and the Beast may be storming the box office around the globe, having made close to $700 million worldwide but it is in India that the film’s success story comes as a surprise. Despite what trade analysts consider a relatively dull period around Holi, the film has netted more than Rs10 crore in box-office collections by the end of its first week, about Rs5 crore more than the combined earnings of all three Hindi films that released on the same Friday, survival thriller Trapped, Abbas-Mustan’s Machine and crowd-sourced drama Mantra.
“The biggest point to note is that despite the examination fever, kids and families across the country have connected with the film,” said film trade and business expert Girish Johar. “It just goes to show that good, well-made content always goes a long way.”
Trade expert Taran Adarsh added that the film benefited both from being an age-old popular brand that especially the youth and Hollywood-going audiences took to and the relatively tame Hindi fare that was doled out the same week.
“Had a stronger film like Badrinath Ki Dulhania come out the same week, the Hollywood film may have been sidelined,” Adarsh said. The Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan-starrer crossed the Rs100-crore mark within two weeks of release.
To be sure, the success of the Bill Condon directed film is yet another example of the inroads Hollywood is making into the country thanks to dubbed regional language releases, aggressive localized marketing and growth of multiplexes. According to the FICCI-KPMG Indian Media and Entertainment Report 2017, gross collections of Hollywood movies grew by around 10% in 2016 compared to 2015 and the leading five Hollywood movies generated more than Rs500 crore cumulatively in gross collections as in 2015.
While audiences in India are more than familiar with the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, having witnessed a successful live stage show version in 2015, Disney didn’t skimp in putting the new film out. Beginning with a three-week print campaign that included impact advertisements, the team worked towards building affinity for female lead Emma Watson. The strategy included a special Holi wish from the actor for India and a call out for on-air and digital promos. Influencer screenings with celebrities like Alia Bhatt, Sakshi Tanwar, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra and the cast of the live entertainment stage show helped generate considerable word-of-mouth across their respective fan bases. Some other key alliances included television partner Star Movies which organized the Star Secret Screening Program, where audiences were invited for a secret screening of the film at a bespoke Beauty and The Beast themed event. Collaboration with exhibition chain PVR Cinemas ensured trailer support, on-ground presence and special installations in their top 12 properties while online ticketing portal BookMyShow worked closely on innovations like reaching out to fans who had booked tickets for the live entertainment show in 2015 in Mumbai and Delhi.
“We are thrilled that Indian audiences are enchanted with the newest rendition of Beauty and the Beast,” said Amrita Pandey, vice president, studio, Disney India. “Disney’s cinematic celebration of our most beloved tale was meant for the audiences who grew up on the animated classic and at the same time enthral a whole new generation. We had already introduced a different avatar of the story to Indian audiences through our live entertainment show, but with the movie we intended to reach out to a wider audience. It’s encouraging to see that families, kids and adults alike have gone out to watch the film and have loved it.”