Hollywood: Winning streak stopped in tracks
With shuttered theatres all over the world and millions of people staying at home, movie business is surely feeling the Covid-19 pandemic heat; and that too at a time when summer blockbusters — in an ideal situation — should have been the buzzword. The same holds true for Hollywood business in India too, which was on a potent ascent in the country for the past four-five years.
Last year, in fact, Hollywood films earned over Rs 1,220 crore in India. Apparently, the corresponding figures for 2017 and 2018 were around Rs 850 crore and Rs 950 crore respectively. But thanks to the lockdown and no relief in sight, has Hollywood’s rise got a major jolt in India?
“With March quarter gone, and the next quarter also looking in doubt, it’s a tough period for everyone, including Hollywood. But don’t write 2020 off yet. If theatres can open around August-September, we will have the last quarter (October-December), which is the big festive period also,” says exhibitor-distributor Akshaye Rathi, who “strongly believes” that regardless of what happens this year, 2021 will be an “astoundingly blockbuster” year thanks to “pent-up demand among people.”
Hollywood biggies would surely hope so, considering last year, India got its highest Hollywood grosser of all time, in Avengers: Endgame (close to Rs 374 crore). Then, The Lion King made Rs 158 crore, becoming the highest Hollywood animation grosser in India. Joker also earned Rs 68 crore, despite an adult rating and no dubbed versions. But Hollywood will find it difficult to get space, thanks to a number of Hindi biggies waiting-in-line and limited release windows.
“It’s going to be a tough fight at the box office. Hollywood films will have to contend with not just Hindi films but also a barrage of biggies down south too. So, it looks unlikely that Hollywood biz can be as big this year as it has been in the past few years,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh.
Although a biggie such as the Vin Diesel-starrer Fast 9 has been pushed to next year, other Hollywood biggies including Mulan, Black Widow, No Time To Die (James Bond franchise), Free Guy, Top Gun: Maverick as well as Christopher Nolan’s Tenet and Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch are still slated for 2020.
“I won’t be surprised if more Hollywood films get postponed to next year because more than 70 per cent of their business comes from overseas markets such as China and, of late, India too. And whenever theatres re-open in India, I am sure Hindi films will get priority. So, Hollywood has surely taken a big hit,” says filmmaker Sanjay Gupta.
Indian numbers talk: 2019
Avengers: Endgame: Rs 374 crore
The Lion King: Rs 158 crore
Spider-Man: Far From Home: Rs 86 crore
Captain Marvel: Rs 84 crore
Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw: Rs 76 crore
(All figures based on industry estimates)