NEW DELHI : The journey for director Sriram Raghavan’s critically acclaimed black comedy thriller Andhadhun hasn’t quite ended. The film co-produced by Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Matchbox Pictures, and distributed internationally by Eros International, will now be released in China as Piano Player.

“I am happy to announce that Viacom18 Studios has secured its maiden release in China and that too with our favourite film Andhadhun. I am very excited about our film's prospect at the China box office and celebrating what is a major first for the studio," said Ajit Andhare, chief operating officer, Viacom18 Studios, in a statement.

This will be the first China release for director Raghavan and lead actor Ayushmann Khurrana. The film co-starring Tabu and Radhika Apte had made Rs. 73.37 crore on its release in India last October.

Viacom18 Studios along with Eros International has now partnered with Tang Media Partners to release the thriller in China.

“I am honoured to bring this highly rated film into China. This film will be the first India movie of its genre that is released in China. We will do our best job in its marketing and distribution campaign," said Kevin Tang, chief executive officer, Tang Media Partners, in a statement.

To be sure, of late, Indian films haven’t really had the best run in China, a market that had emerged as a goldmine in the past few years. Yash Raj Films’ action adventure Thugs of Hindostan only managed $ 4.71 million (Rs. 32.93 crore) over its opening weekend while Akshay Kumar’s biographical drama Padman registered an unimpressive total of $3.55 million (Rs. 25.54 crore). Comedy drama 102 Not Out made $3.56 million ( 25.06 crore) in the neighbouring country while India’s blockbuster war epic Baahubali 2: The Conclusion too had only managed about $11.9 million (Rs. 80 crore).

The success story in China, so far, has been majorly driven by Aamir Khan-starrers. While his sports drama Dangal is currently the highest-grossing Indian film in China, making close to Rs. 1,200 crore, his musical production Secret Superstar earned around Rs. 760 crore. Other superhits include PK ( Rs. 123 crore) and 3 Idiots ( Rs. 16 crore).

The massive screen count is an important factor for Indian films to have managed such impressive theatrical returns in China. The country almost quadrupled its screen count in the last few years, from around 10,000. India, on the other hand, works with 9,000-odd cinemas divided between single screens and multiplexes.

Then there is the difference in ticket rates. The average ticket price in China is $12 compared with India’s $1.5. But most importantly, Indian stories with their strong emotional chord have resonated with Chinese audiences, who are used to either Hollywood spectacles or Chinese mythologies and fantasies.

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