Avatar is being touted as the biggest Hollywood release in India.
Yeah, we will be releasing over 600 prints, in both 2D and 3D format. It’ll be preceded with a massive build-up, on TV, print, outdoors, and premieres in Delhi and Mumbai. We have eight-10 sponsors on board and they are coming up with innovative ideas like Happy Meals and a trip from Rajkot to Mumbai for an IMX experience to name a few. Our ‘Avatar Day’ was a big hit.
At Rs 1,200 crore, it’s the most expensive film ever made. The pressures of recovering your investment and making a tidy profit like Titanic that was the largest grosser in history, must be giving you sleepless nights?
(Laughs) Well, there is a lot of pressure but what’s encouraging is that it’s been Hollywood’s best year so far in terms of revenue. We’ve been delivering the numbers. Genres like action, fantasy and creature movies have found a big audience in India. X-Men grossed Rs 15 crore, Ice Age was the biggest animated film and 2012 is a huge hit and an important milestone. Its success is testimony to the fact that there’s a viewing audience for Hollywood films even in the smaller centres.
Yeah, the number of 3D screens has escalated from 12 to 70 and not just in metros like Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore but also in smaller centres like Coimbatore, Amritsar and Jaipur.
That’s right and it is based on the premise that fundamentally people looking to experience new technology in metros are no different from those living in the B centres. They are driven by the same aspirations. And given that equipping these theatres with 3D technology is an investment made by hard-nosed companies who are driven by turnover, the observation must ring true.But the audience for Avatar will not be coming in to see a new technology but an emotional love story with great action and visual effects. 3D will take the viewing experience to another level and I’m hopeful that those who watch it first on 2D will return for a repeat viewing on 3D.
Will the film trigger off a 3D revolution in Bollywood?
I know that 3D is definitely becoming more popular in Hollywood but whether Bollywood goes into 3D, we will have to wait and watch. It would call for a higher investment and a whole new technology. But I’m hopeful that in the next 18-24 months, we will definitely have some 3D Bollywood movies.
The film is being dubbed in two regional languages, Tamil and Telugu, besides Hindi. Wouldn’t people down South be familiar with English?
Maybe they are but when the promise is a visual experience of the kind not scripted before, they might want to watch it in an idiom they are comfortable with.
Avatar is coming at a time when we’re still going through an economic slowdown, worldwide. And In India, you have just one clear week before one of Bollywood’s most anticipated movies, 3 Idiots, enters the theatres.
Given the pattern of releases, every week in the last six months, we’ve had a big movie releasing, sometimes even three or four. So, every film has had just one clear week to earn its revenue. We’re fortunate that we don’t have significant competition from a Bollywood biggie. On the subject of the economic slowdown, all I can say is that when times are difficult, people look for diversions. According to an interesting study in the US, more people are now going to the theatres. Probably because when you are laid off, you don’t want to be sitting by yourself but seek human interaction that will take you away, even momentarily, from bleak reality.
There’s been some controversy over the title following protests by fundamentalist groups. Comment.
I don’t want to go down that path. Avatar is fundamentally a love story and the term is used in the cyber world by people who take on an assumed identity.