Home / Industry / Media /  Diwali releases likely to improve overseas film business
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NEW DELHI : Key overseas territories such as the US, UK, Canada and Australia, which have so far thrown up numbers that are not very encouraging for some Punjabi and Telugu language films, are expected to finally open up with Bollywood’s big-ticket Diwali offering Sooryavanshi and Rajinikanth-starrer Annaatthe.

Hollywood films have set cash registers ringing overseas over the past few weeks, but regional Indian films such as Honsla Rakh (Punjabi) and Love Story (Telugu) did not replicate their impressive domestic box office numbers abroad. Trade experts hope that the dry spell will end now with audiences returning to theatres overseas.

In 2019, overseas film shows had accounted for 2,700 crore of the total of 19,100 crore made by filmed entertainment, according to the Ficci-EY media and entertainment industry report.

Sooryavanshi will open in 66 countries on 1,300 screens in international markets including North America, the UAE, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Israel, Japan, Chile, Egypt, Iraq and Djibouti.

Annaatthe is also expected to be shown on 1,000 screens overseas.

“The overseas market has only opened up for Hollywood till now and the performance of local Indian films may be termed okay, if not poor. The standard audience bent towards Hollywood is understandable given that the industry has been churning out big-ticket films back to back," said film producer, trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar.

The diaspora has also become used to content on over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms. To contend with the trend, the US film industry has recently released high-profile movies such as James Bond film No Time to Die, which made $368 million at the international box office within three weeks of release.

The coronavirus pandemic saw key overseas territories for Hindi and Tamil films crash completely and the numbers of recent releases such as Akshay Kumar’s Bellbottom were far from impressive, said independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai. “If things don’t open up for Sooryavanshi, something is seriously wrong," Pillai said.

The action spectacle is Bollywood’s best bet for territories such as US, UK and Europe where audiences have remained cautious so far while those such as Malaysia, the biggest market for Tamil films, had collapsed completely and is still operating at restricted capacities, Pillai said.

Earlier this year, when exhibitors were urging producers to start releasing films after the first covid wave, several studio heads had pointed out that big-ticket movies with high budgets and high-profile stars also need overseas markets to open up and become functional. In India, national multiplex chains opened advance booking for Sooryavanshi only late on Thursday night but the film had netted around 4.5 crore in advance sales from single screens and independent multiplexes, according to trade website Box Office India.

Three regions, including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, all of which have been allowed 100% seating occupancies, are leading the wave, making for the best advance since action drama War starring Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff, which had released in October 2019.


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