Hollywood India Box Office

Something we observed in our visit to the snazzier INOX multiplexes while visiting India in early 2005:

... purely from anecdotal evidence, we found it was much tougher to get tickets to the Bollywood films as opposed to the English flicks on offer. Speaking to the box office clerks confirmed this observation. In addition, the Hollywood films were priced cheaper than most of the Bollywood films. Tickets to Veer Zaara, the then blockbuster, cost close to 200 rupees!

For example, there was a huge publicity campaign underway for The Incrediblesat the time. Dubbed in Hindi, featuring the voice of Shahrukh Khan and entitled Hum Hain Lajawab (We Are Fabulous) it didn't really cause any stir - nothing that we could see anyway. Rediff has an article confirming our observation - India resisted Hollywood's advances last year.

According to market estimates, the box office share of Hollywood movies in India has declined from a high of about 9 per cent, to around 4 per cent last year (about Rs 150 crore in all).

Hollywood representatives are tightlipped on individual takings. But they do accept a reversal. "What is noteworthy is that 2005 was really big for Bollywood," concedes Vikramjit Roy, head, publicity and acquisitions, Sony Pictures Releasing of India (SPRI), "and that newer multiplex screens have been added."

Not that Hindi cinema ever lost its charm. But, for a while, it looked as if Hollywood's domination was inevitable, as its dubbed blockbusters began to do almost as well as Hindi cinema's biggest hits. That fear has now abated. Says Pooja Shetty, director, Adlabs Films, "There were some good movies from Hollywood studios. Yet, last year clearly belonged to Bollywood, especially the new-genre of crossover films. Hollywood could not match its performance of previous years."

Despite this reversal, India remains too big a market to ignore. An alternate strategy seems to be emerging:

That might end once Hollywood studios enter domestic film production, having already managed a foot through the door in distribution. Sony, for example, has announced that it will co-produce Sanjay Leela Bhansali's latest venture Saawariya. This will be a first. And an experiment to be watched closely.

Lastly, Ibosnetwork has a list of the top non-Bollywood grossers in India for 2005:

Top non-Bollywood hits for India
*Collections where available*

Tamil - Chandramukhi (Rs. 60 crore Gross)
Telugu - Chatrapati (Rs. 25 crore gross)
Kannada - Jogi
Malyalam - Rajamanikkam (Rs. 8 crore)
Bhojpuri - Sasura Bada Paisewala (Rs. 17 crore)
Bengali - Juddha (Rs. 5 crore)

The domestic collection for Chandramukhi, the Tamil hit, is easily at par, if not better, with the biggest Bollywood hits of 2005 (Black, Bunty Aur Babli). Just a reminder that Bollywood is not the be all and end all of Indian cinema - as if we needed one!

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- January 28, 2006 5:39 PM // Bollywood , Film , India