Hollywood is getting ready for an eventful summer in India in 2021 with a slate of big releases such as the new James Bond film, No Time to Die in April, Disney’s spy thriller Black Widow, the latest instalment from the Fast and Furious franchise, F9, in May, and Tom Cruise-starrer Top Gun: Maverick in July. Several smaller titles such as Mortal Kombat, A Quiet Place: Part II, Godzilla vs Kong, The Conjuring and others will also draw attention.
During the pandemic, the first movie titles to hit the big screen in India have been from Hollywood: Christopher Nolan’s Tenet and superhero flick Wonder Woman 1984, with box office collections of ₹12.43 crore and ₹15.54 crore, respectively. With the vaccine being rolled out, prospects for films are looking up.
“India is a small but important market for Hollywood and it is important that they build on the success of Tenet and Wonder Woman that enjoyed the first mover advantage given the absence of new local films,” film trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar pointed out. Traditionally, big-scale Hollywood films could notch up a screen count of 1,500-2,000 in India but given the space available, left over by Bollywood, it wouldn’t be surprising if they manage even higher showcasing, Johar said.
For now, most Bollywood filmmakers have not locked release dates for their finished projects. The number of films from local movie industries is likely to be considerably lower this year which creates an opportunity for Hollywood flicks.
Devang Sampat, deputy CEO, Cinepolis India, said the release of Tenet and Wonder Woman are clear signs of Hollywood’s intention to look at theatre offerings. The move follows a bunch of high-profile titles such as Trolls World Tour, Artemis Fowl, Scoob, The King of Staten Island, My Spy, and Lovebirds being taken to video streaming platforms. Other titles such as Disney’s Mulan and Warner Bros’ Wonder Woman 1984 saw hybrid releases, screening both in theatres and on home devices either simultaneously or as deemed viable in specific territories.
To be sure, India has often demonstrated its love for Hollywood titles especially big spectacles such as the Avengers Endgame which is the highest-grossing American film in the country at ₹373.22 crore followed by Avengers: Infinity War ( ₹227.43 crore) and The Jungle Book ( ₹188 crore). In 2019, Hollywood, with a combination of spectacular superhero movies and smaller budget, softer films, notched up box office collections of nearly Rs. 1,225 crore in India which was higher than Rs. 900-950 crore it earned in 2018. Dubbing these films in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu apart from exhaustive marketing and localization campaigns by Hollywood studios has added much to their appeal in the country.
This December, Warner Bros had set alarm bells ringing across the world as it announced a unique, hybrid distribution model for its 2021 movie releases, all of which shall hit cinema screens the same day as their premiere on the company’s video streaming platform HBO Max. However, given that the OTT platform is yet to be launched in India, the theatrical appeal of these films is still huge here.
“Everyone is waiting it out to position their films right now but Tenet and Wonder Woman are clear signs that people are willing to come back to theatres,” Sampat said