Bajirao, Dilwale are not the only reason why Star Wars lost in India

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 30, 2015 12:00 IST
Audience at a Mumbai theatre in India which is screening all three films: Star Wars, Dilwale and Bajirao Mastani. (Hindustan Times)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens may be the billion-dollar juggernaut which is trampling all box office records in its path but the Force is not strong in India. The film which opened to raving reviews and fan frenzy on December 18 in most parts of the world reached Indian shores on December 25, thanks to big Bollywood releases Bajirao Mastani and Dilwale that opened on December 18 and hogged all the screens.

Star Wars came out one week later on 1600 screens, riding on positive word-of-mouth. However, the collections failed to justify the hype. The film earned Rs 1 crore through preview shows and went on to collect Rs 3.58 crore on Friday. The numbers, however, started dipping from Saturday onwards when ticket window sales amounted to Rs 2.75 crore. With the Sunday BO collection of Rs 2.67 crore, the film earned a total of Rs 10 crore in India in its opening weekend.

Read: Star Wars is fastest film to earn $1 billion

While collections are not bad in terms of a Hollywood release in India, they are drastically less than what other Hollywood blockbusters earned in the country in the past one year. And pit them against the film’s run internationally and Indian geekdom will be a sad, sad lot.

Actor Aamir Khan with his wife Kiran Rao and daughter Ira Khan during the premiere of Disney's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in Mumbai. (PTI)

Being pitted against Shah Rukh Khan’s Dilwale and Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh-starrer Bajirao Mastani definitely worked against the Episode VII of the well-loved franchise. The big Bollywood releases came out on December 18 and one-week delay was not enough of a breather before another big release. Even by Bollywood standards, the two big-ticket films opening on the same weekend is a rarity, with the two titles screening on an estimated 5,000 screens on a combined basis.

Read: Star Wars review

Another reason which is being cited for the film’s lukewarm reception is the lack of ‘Star War culture’ in India. “For us and for most people, Star Wars is a global cinematic event, if there ever was one. In many developed markets where Star Wars has been part of the cultural zeitgeist, you just have to tell people when it’s coming. Except for a few of us in the cities, not many have grown up on Star Wars culture (in India). Besides, there was such a big time gap,” Disney’s Siddharth Roy Kapur had said prior to the film’s release. Disney would have to work harder to establish the brand and the associated mythology of the franchise in India.

Sci-fi as a genre fails to crossover to smaller centres in India and that also hurt Star Wars. Even though the film has been dubbed into local languages, it has failed to attract audiences outside metros. The same situation has been repeated in South Korea and Vietnam where the film didn’t open at the top of the charts.

This year has been big for Hollywood in India. While Furious 7 made a mammoth Rs 70 crore in the opening weekend, Avengers: Age of Ultron made Rs 49 crore in the Indian market. Jurassic World, whose record Star Wars decimated in the international market, made Rs 46 crore in the first three days. However, Disney India will be hoping that with the holiday season on and an open window at the BO, the film will gain some momentum.

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