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Business News/ Industry / Media/  Hollywood studios mull theatrical releases in India
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Hollywood studios mull theatrical releases in India

In 2019, Hollywood, with a combination of spectacular superhero movies and smaller budget, softer films, notched up box office collections of nearly Rs1,225 crore in India which was higher than Rs900-950 crore it earned in 2018

Walt Disney has Marvel superhero flick Black Widow lined up for release in India. (Photo: Twitter @theblackwidow)Premium
Walt Disney has Marvel superhero flick Black Widow lined up for release in India. (Photo: Twitter @theblackwidow)

NEW DELHI: With the gradual reopening of theatres in states such as Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, and Jharkhand, and the possibility of Delhi and Maharashtra following suit later his month, Hollywood studios are looking at making up for lost time in India by bringing a bunch of movie titles already released in other parts of the world.

Warner Bros has movies like Fast and Furious 9, The Suicide Squad and Dune ready, Walt Disney has Marvel superhero flick Black Widow while Sony Pictures has Venom, Peter Rabbit 2 and Escape Room 2 which can fill the gap in theatres in the initial weeks when there are fewer Indian films available. Film trade experts said the reopening of top metros, especially in the south, by mid- to end-July should pave the way for these films whose major markets are Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

“India is a key Asian market for Warner Bros. and we are ready with a revival strategy when cinemas reopen. While Hollywood content has traditionally represented a modest share of box office collections, we’re doing all we can to safely accelerate the revival of cinemagoing in India," said Denzil Dias, managing director, Warner Bros. Pictures, India, adding that once cinemas reopen, the company will have a line-up of 12 new films – including the slate from Universal Pictures.

Warner will bring films like The Suicide Squad, Fast & Furious 9, Space Jam: A New Legacy, The Boss Baby: Family Business, Dune and M. Night Shyamalan’s Old to the big screen. Even after the first lockdown, the US studio had remained at the forefront of theatrical releases, showcasing titles like Tenet, Wonder Woman 1984, and Godzilla vs. Kong that had also managed to draw audiences in India.

Film producer, trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar said it is clear that Hollywood studios will try to cash in on the track record they have already built in India. “Their success may even encourage local producers to plan releases," Johar said, referring to the period after the first lockdown when films like Tenet and Wonder Woman had first taken the litmus test in theatres. Hindi film followed with Roohi and Mumbai Saga. In fact, that Hollywood has started releasing animation flicks like Raya and the Last Dragon in cinemas in the US proves that it is looking at bringing families and children back, Johar added.

In 2019, Hollywood, with a combination of spectacular superhero movies and smaller budget, softer films, notched up box office collections of nearly Rs1,225 crore in India which was higher than Rs900-950 crore it earned in 2018. Dubbing these films in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu apart from exhaustive marketing and localisation campaigns by Hollywood studios has added much to their appeal in the country. Presuming sentiments remain subdued and people wary of visiting theatres over the next couple of months, the first batch of Hollywood titles could look at together making around Rs. 300 crore in box office collections, film industry experts said.

“We expect Hollywood to help restart the film exhibition sector this time as well and are still waiting for local filmmakers to reach a consensus on dates. It is time that everyone focuses on resurrection of the industry because this affects everyone," independent film distributor and exhibitor Akshaye Rathi said.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lata Jha
Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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Published: 01 Jul 2021, 02:03 PM IST
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