Dubbed Hollywood films: The pie grows


MUMBAI: The Hollywood dubbed film market in India is growing by the day and according to industry estimates, at present it’s a Rs 2 billion (Rs 200 crore) market. And it is not just the big screen that is smitten by them… the Idiot Box also attracts more eyeballs where these films are concerned.

Businessofcinema.com examines the trend…


The most popular of the dubbed film languages are Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Lately, even the Bhojpuri language has gained prominence as Spider-Man 3 became the first ever Hollywood film to be dubbed in that language. Mainstream Hollywood films (in English) have been unable to break into the revenues of the Indian film market as figures suggest that Hollywood market represents only five – seven per cent of the total film revenues in India. However, the Hindi, Tamil and Telugu dubbed versions of Hollywood films are gaining popularity by the day.

All the major Hollywood films like King Kong, Jurassic Park, Spider-Man, Mummy Returns, Mission Impossible and the likes enjoy an overwhelming popularity in the dubbed market. The fact is that most of the dubbed films belong to the action/adventure genre, since the film rests more on visual appeal than the dialogue part.

Paramount Pictures marketing manager Jacinto Fernandes explains, “The action/adventure genre is the most popular bet for any dubbed Hollywood film in India. Surprisingly, Tamil and Telugu versions are more popular than the Hindi ones. The number of prints released for Hollywood films is also increasing by the day. Earlier the standard was about 250 prints including Hindi, English, Tamil and Telugu versions, but now it can cross 600 prints, case in point being Spider-Man 3. Surely, it is an upward trend, but there is a huge potential for the dubbed market in India, which is yet to be tapped.” Continued… < Page Break >

Sony Pictures Releasing of India head publicity Vikramjit Roy says, “The dubbed Hollywood market is on the verge of the unprecedented boom. Some of the films released by us have created history of sorts with the kind of response they have managed. For example, Spider-Man 3 did a business of more than Rs 660 million (Rs 66 crores) and the other release Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End managed around Rs 240 million (Rs 24 crores).”

“We also tested the Bhojpuri market for the first time with six prints of Spider-Man 3 and it turned out to be a great success. So, going ahead more pockets would open up for the dubbed Hollywood films, which surely would also add to the revenues generated by these films,” Roy adds.

One of the limiting factors for the Hollywood dubbed films not gaining more ground in India is because many states like Karnataka, Gujarat and Bengal don’t encourage the dubbed entertainment since it undermines the regional cinema in these states.

Additionally, with the coming in of the multiplexes, the number of prints per film have steadily been on the rise. Cinemax India vice president marketing and programming Devang Sampant opines, “With the growth of the multiplex culture, the popularity of Hollywood dubbed films is gaining more reach by the day. Moreover, the marketing strategy and promotion of Hollywood films is also getting more aggressive, which ensures more footfalls for the film. If you notice the trend, compared to the earlier releases, the current Hollywood releases in India have a bigger promotional budget to woo audiences.”

However, one thing that is limiting the growth of dubbed Hollywood films in India are some of the regional Film Boards, which do not encourage the release of English films in regional languages. Fun Cinemas’ Amit Dhanuka opines on the same, “Unless regional Film Boards don’t encourage the dubbed films it cannot achieve growth beyond the Hindi, Tamil and Telugu belts. The fact is that many distributors do realise that it is a low-cost-high return business, but they can’t do much without the backing of the regional Film Boards.” Continued… < Page Break >


What’s more, it is not only the big screen that showcases the dubbed Hollywood films. Even the small screen is smitten by the phenomenon. With many satellite channels going into the movie space, the market and reach of the dubbed Hollywood films has increased manifold.

TAM Media Research director communications Siddharth Mukherjee says, “The observation so far suggests that the Hollywood dubbed films enjoy a considerable popularity among the TV viewers. This may not happen always, but it has been a general trend so far.”

In 2006, Hollywood films like Stuart Little, Titanic, The Lost World: Jurrasic Park, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Terminator 3, The Scorpion King, Shaolin Soccer, Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Mighty Joe Young, Spider-Man, Jumanji, The Mummy Returns, Babe and Vertical Limit amongst others were among the Top 50 Hindi dubbed films watched on televison across various channels like Max, Star Gold and Pogo.

An interesting trend that was noticed is that the English telecast of some films, garnered less than half the TRPs (television rating points) than the Hindi dubbed version of the same film. For example, while the English version of Spider-Man on Star Movies got 0.5 TRPs, the Hindi dubbed version on Star Gold got a TRP of 1.39.

This, combined with efforts of the multiplex players and Hollywood Studios operating in India, is surely giving an impetus to the big boom for dubbed Hollywood movies here.