It’s Black Panther vs Aiyaary at BO: Here’s how Hollywood vs Bollywood clashes have played out recently

With Sidharth Malhotra and Manoj Bajpayee’s Aiyaary scheduled to release on February 16, all eyes are on Marvel’s Black Panther, which is expected to challenge the Hindi spy thriller’s opening.

hollywood Updated: Feb 15, 2018 14:21 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
Black Panther,Aiyaary,Manoj Bajpayee
This image released by Disney shows Chadwick Boseman in a scene from Marvel Studios' Black Panther.(AP)

The year 2015 was when everything changed at the Indian box office. That year, three Hollywood films entered the coveted Rs 100 crore club, which, since then, has lost its importance, but remains a significant milestone for foreign films. Usually, these movies are released in a fraction of the theatres that would normally be allotted for Bollywood movies of a similar scale. But in 2015, Jurassic World, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Fast & Furious 7 all made over Rs 100 crore and opened new avenues for imported cinema.

And like 2015, 2017 was another pivotal year, but with one key difference: Hollywood films have begun challenging Bollywood movies in the opening weekends.

“The rise of multiplexes can be a reason behind it. We have more number of theatres now and the new generation of moviegoers are interested in new kind of content,” says trade analyst Atul Mohan.

With Sidharth Malhotra and Manoj Bajpayee’s Aiyaary scheduled to release on February 16, all eyes are on Marvel’s Black Panther, which is expected to challenge the Hindi spy thriller’s opening. Marvel’s previous film, Thor: Ragnarok, scored the studio’s biggest debut in India, besting another Sidharth Malhotra film, Ittefaq. The film made Rs 32 crore in its first three days, and ended its run with Rs 75 crore. Just a few months before that, Spider-Man: Homecoming scored the biggest Hollywood opening of the year with Rs 41 crore.

Now, it is Aiyaary vs Black Panther at the box office. The Neeraj Pandey directorial has already been postponed twice. The film was earlier scheduled to release on January 26, along with Akshay Kumar’s PadMan, but the sudden slotting of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavat forced both films to postpone their release. PadMan opened to a decent Rs 40 crore over the February 9 weekend, and Aiyaary, hoping for a better chance at the box office, has only Black Panther to contend with.

But perhaps out of overconfidence, or a lack of awareness, or both, no one took into account the cultural juggernaut that Black Panther has become, even before being released. The film is projected to debut to over $150 million at the US box office. To put matters into perspective, Captain America: Civil War made $179 million, while Ragnarok made $121 million.

Mohan says given the production value and technical finesse of Hollywood films, they can certainly pose a challenge to Indian films. He says that Hollywood studios “have realised the market potential in India and thus they are planning their releases accordingly.”

This image released by Disney shows Lupita Nyong'o, left, and Letitia Wright in a scene from Marvel Studios' Black Panther. (AP)

Based on what we’ve seen in 2017 - Marvel movies (and Stephen King’s phenomenal It) stealing opening weekends from under Bollywood’s nose - it would not be surprising if Black Panther gives Aiyaary a stiff competition.

As Mohan says, “Established superhero franchises have been doing well in India.” Three of India’s top 5 highest-grossing Hollywood films of 2017 were superhero movies. Along with Homecoming and Ragnarok, Fast & Furious 8 (Rs 78 crore), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Rs 70 crore) and Justice League (Rs 52 crore) made it to the top 5.

Could the best reviews of the series, and unprecedented buzz catapult Black Panther to 2018’s highest-grossing list? “The audience is divided. We have a dedicated audience to both the films. Both of them have equal potential,” Mohan says.

All figures courtesy The Numbers.

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First Published: Feb 15, 2018 13:56 IST