Why ‘The Jungle Book’ was a tough act to follow for ‘Inferno’

Tepid times follow a spectacular summer for Hollywood releases in India including the big money-spinner ‘The Jungle Book’


A still featuring actors Tom Hanks (left) and Irrfan Khan from Ron Howard’s thriller Inferno.
A still featuring actors Tom Hanks (left) and Irrfan Khan from Ron Howard’s thriller Inferno.

New Delhi: Earlier this month, Tom Cruise-starrer Jack Reacher: Never Go Back opened to underwhelming box office collections of Rs.3.5 crore in India.

Director Ron Howard’s movie adaptation of Dan Brown novel, Inferno, released a week before, also finished at lifetime collections of Rs.8.5 crore despite the star presence of Tom Hanks and India’s very own Irrfan Khan.

The two October offerings are part of the slew of Hollywood releases in the second half of 2016 that have notched up much lower numbers compared to those out in the robust first half of the year.

In the past three months, Hollywood releases like epic historical action drama Ben-Hur, supernatural comedy Ghostbusters and action thriller Jason Bourne managed lifetime collections of Rs.3.8 crore, Rs.1.4 crore and Rs.1.35 crore, respectively. Compared to that, the first half had money-spinners like The Jungle Book, Captain America: Civil War and The Conjuring 2 that notched up numbers like Rs.181.75 crore, Rs.58.33 crore and Rs.61.78 crore, respectively.

On 28 June 2016, Mint had reported that Hollywood films have collected around $61 million in the first six months of 2016. Updated figures based on the earnings of movies that had even longer legs at the box office show that the collections now stand at $82 million, said industry experts who declined to be named.

Compared to that, the box office earnings of Hollywood films in India from July to October stand at only $19.42 million.

“The first half of the year has been much bigger (for Hollywood movies in India),” confirmed Amrita Pandey, vice-president, Studios at Disney India. “The reason for it is the slate of all the big studios. What we’re seeing year on year is that all the tent-pole movies, whether they are animation or superhero or ones like Civil War and Jungle Book, are usually released by most US studios in the summer which means April to June. And then it’s during the November-December period that the big tent-poles come in again.”

It’s also about the much matured focus on seasonality and time slots within India itself.

“What we’re now seeing is India getting day-and-date movie releases (with the rest of the world),” said Devang Sampat, director of Strategic Initiatives at Cinépolis India who expects Hollywood to contribute anything between 20% and 22% to box office earnings of the chain in the second half of the year. “So a trend has emerged where the first quarter of the year belongs to regional cinema and there are major releases happening in the south. Of course other language movies will release but the primary percentage will go to these languages. The second quarter comprising April, May and June are strong for Hollywood and contribute very well to the calendar year. This phases out by the third and fourth quarter.”

That, as is well known, coincides with the grand festive weekends of Eid, Diwali and Christmas that churn out big-ticket Bollywood offerings and are dominated by vehicles driven by popular faces like Salman Khan and Aamir Khan.

To be sure though, the collections of Disney’s The Jungle Book alone, which has emerged as the highest grossing Hollywood film in the country, have given industry experts reason to believe that there might be a rise of 2-2.5% to Hollywood contribution to Indian box office in 2016. Plus, beginning November, there are several promising releases lined up.

Starting with Marvel’s superhero film Doctor Strange this week, there is action fantasy drama Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, an offshoot of the Harry Potter series on 18 November, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a standalone film part of the iconic universe on 16 December, action adventure film Assassin’s Creed based on the video game franchise of the same name on 23 December and xXx: Return of Xander Cage that brings together Deepika Padukone with Hollywood action star Vin Diesel on 20 January.

“Yes, the second quarter (of the financial year) was definitely soft as compared to the first quarter,” said Kamal Gianchandani, chief executive officer, PVR Pictures. “But we see this business more from the prism of the annual line-up rather than quarter-to-quarter line-up. Of course, The Jungle Book is a tough act to follow and we don’t see that happening this year but I think we’ve got a steady supply of films with big names attached to them and those on familiar intellectual properties.”

More From Livemint