From a treat once restricted to the urban and elite to entertainment that’s reaching Tier II and Tier III cities, Hollywood has come a long, long way. Time was when the English-speaking audience would take a local train and travel across the city to watch an English film while those who could afford it, rented the film on VCD (later DVD).
Blockbusters like Titanic changed all that. Remember the queues outside cinema halls when this James Cameron film released in India in 1997? It enjoyed the widest release ever for any Hollywood film in India at the time. Since then, there’s been no looking back.
It was only in the early 2000 that Hollywood found a hook in India, and the film industry has the multiplex revolution to thank. Next, technology enabled dubbing in Hindi and other regional languages like Tamil and Telugu. Movies like Jurrasic Park and the Bond series whetted the appetite of the Hindi audience who began to crave for Hollywood films. Add to this, the strides in marketing and promotion, and it was not long before the West found a lucrative market in India. Now it is not unusual for A-list Hollywood actors to visit India to promote their films.
Thus, following the success of some big franchises like the Spiderman, Harry Potter and Mission Impossible series in major Indian metro cities, English films are now eyeing smaller towns and are cranking up the growth engine.
This has involved a change in distribution strategies propelled by the expansion of digital cinema screens and the mushrooming of multiplexes across the Tier II and Tier II centres.
“There has been a growth in the number of multiplexes in B and C centres. While in 2007, there were less than 150 muliplexes in the country, we now have around 415. The exhibition business has witnessed almost a 300 per cent growth in the last few years,” says Gaurav Verma, VP Distribution – India, UTV Motion Pictures.
In keeping with this new-found growth, a slew of Hollywood films circulated a large number of prints last year. The Adventures Of Tintin released in November with more than 350 prints – a record-breaking number for an animated film – in both English and Hindi, and in 3D, 2D and IMAX 3D formats.
In December, Mission Impossible released at a large number of screens, and in four languages. Recently, Top Entertainment released two films, the Oscar-winning The Artist and top-grosser The Hunger Games, at 80 and 240 screens respectively. Next week, Marvel Studios’ The Avengers distributed by UTV Motion Pictures will release on April 27 – hold your breath – across 800 screens in India, dubbed in four languages. This will be a record number of screens for any Hollywood film in India so far!