Not US, not China, India is Hollywood’s first choice

  • Jigar Shah, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 17, 2016 17:29 IST
The X-Men franchise in India has a huge fan following. As more and more Hollywood films hit the Indian theatres prior to their release in the US, we look at what has caused the paradigm shift.

The Jungle Book released in India on April 8, a week prior to its US release (April 15). Even X-Men Apocalypse and Ice Age: Collision Course are slated to hit Indian screens in May and July, respectively, before releasing in America.

But this was not always the case. In the past, Hollywood films had an international release first, and would then hit theatres in India.

Indians connect strongly to stories from The Jungle Book.

Today, many international production houses now think of India as a major market for their projects. Perhaps that’s the reason why many Hollywood movies now release in India first.

Read: The Jungle Book has earned Rs 74 crore in first week and it’s a big deal

Talking about the trend, Vijay Singh of Fox Star Studios says, “We are seeing a paradigm shift in India and the rest of Asia when it comes to Hollywood films. The market for bigger movies is expanding. This is one of the reasons why many studios are now choosing to release some movies in India first.

The X-Men franchise has a huge fan following in the country. Similarly, Ice Age: Collision Course is also a highly anticipated film, and it makes sense to showcase the film here before its US release.”

Winds of change

While India is growing as a market for international films, Kamal Gianchandani of PVR Cinemas says that “an increase in the number of multiplexes has been one of the biggest contributors” for that development.

He also adds that since moviegoers here are hooked on Indian films, releasing Hollywood movies ahead of their international opening dates is strategic. “The main objective behind releasing Hollywood films earlier is to avoid clashes with big Bollywood movies,” says Gianchandani.

Read: Bagheera from Jungle Book’s like a general: Ben Kingsley

Agreeing with Gianchandani, exhibitor Akshaye Rathi says, “Earlier, Hollywood films wouldn’t do this (release films in India first) as they were worried about piracy. But when international production houses realised that piracy did not take place on such a large scale here, they started releasing their movies earlier.”

India connect

On the other hand, Hollywood films with a strong Indian connect also have a good chance of making it big in the country. For instance, The Jungle Book reportedly collected around Rs 75 crore in the first week of its release in India. Amrita Pandey of Disney India says, “Indians have a strong connect when it comes to stories from The Jungle Book. It’s rare to get a big English movie with an Indian story. So, we thought The Jungle Book deserves to release in India first. Moreover, the first week of April is when many schools across the country have summer breaks. So, the timing was perfect.”

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