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Western Invasion

There’s a barrage of franchise films lined up for release this year as well. Beginning with Sony Pictures Entertainment’s The Amazing Spider-Man 3D, which also features our own Indian actor Irrfan, the film releases on July 3. Next in line is Fox Star Studios’s Ice Age 4: Continental Drift on July 13 and then Warner Bros’ Dark Knight Rises on July 20 in 700 screens. The movie, directed by Christopher Nolan, is the final instalment in the Batman trilogy.

Each of these Hollywood movies is likely to be released across 500-700 screens. Since they are also dubbed in languages such as Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, these productions are backed by strong promotion and marketing plans that will help scale up their Indian box-office business.

Industry experts claim that the Hindi dubbed version of a Hollywood film reels in almost 40 per cent of the movie’s business in India while 28 to 30 per cent comes in from the Tamil and Telugu versions. That’s because Hollywood films are now experiencing a major thrust in cities like Baroda, Rajkot, Ranchi, Dhanbad and Patna, coupled with the fact that multiplexes in these places are going digital to accommodate 3D films too.

Gupta avers, “Almost two months ago, places like Kolhapur had close to six cinemas but none of them had a 3D-capable screen. Now, exhibitors there are investing in the technology to corner a larger share of the pie.”

The same-day-date release or in some cases even a prior India release date to the US markets give these films an added push. The Adventures Of Tintin that released almost a week before its US release was a precursor to this trend. Now The Avengers will also follow suit.

Sanjeev Kumar Bijli, Joint Managing Director, PVR Pictures says, “Earlier, there was no infrastructure for multiplexes in smaller towns but that is changing. It is easier for Hollywood to earn more business from smaller towns also because the plexes in these places have smaller auditoria. It is easy to have good occupancy when the halls are merely 1,000 seaters, which brings in better return on investment.” 

So, soon after opening a multiplex in Nanded in Maharashtra, PVR plans to invest around Rs 130 crore with a target to scale up its all-India total to 75 screens. A major focus of this investment will be directed at smaller towns.

Helping Hollywood obliquely is the overall increase in absolute box-office business in India, since a host of Hindi films has made it to the elite Rs 100-crore club. Bijli says, “While earlier, the contribution of English films to the Indian box office was merely 1 to 2 per cent, the pie has now increased to 5 to 8 per cent.”

The marketing spends being made by studios to promote these films in smaller cities has also witnessed a sharp surge. Sailesh Pathak, Marketing Head at Top Entertainment reveals, “Companies are spending more than 25 per cent of their marketing budgets in towns like Pune, Kolhapur and Nagpur. While earlier a Hollywood film would only shell out Rs 25-50 lakh for promotion and publicity, this has escalated to up to Rs 3 crore for a film.”

And why not, since exhibitors are shelling out higher sums to buy more prints of Hollywood films, it is only wise that studios promote their films to the fullest by generating the right kind of buzz. But there’s reason for studios, distributors and exhibitors to tread carefully. According to Pathak, popular franchises like Spiderman have a much better chance at the box office than, say, a one-off drama like The Artist. Action and comedy films also fare much better. Well, no one said marketing was easy in today’s times, much less selling celluloid dreams!

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