Hollywood strengthens its grip on India


    MUMBAI: Foreign films being released in India are increasingly capturing a larger share of revenues at the box office. Six months into 2007 and one of the major Hollywood studios operating in India – Sony Pictures Releasing of India – has already crossed the Rs 1 billion mark in theatrical revenues. In 2006, the company grossed revenues of Rs 1.17 billion (Rs 117 crores).


    So far a total of 38 Hollywood films have released in India in 2007 and the number is expected to go up to at least 85 – 86 by the end of the year; as compared to 74 films that were released in 2006 and 55 films in 2005.


    The total box office of Hollywood films released in India in 2006 was approximately Rs 2.40 – 2.50 billion (Rs 240 – 250 crores). Expectations are to end the year at Rs 3+ billion (Rs 300 crore).


    Till date in 2007, Sony Pictures Releasing of India has totted total revenues of Rs 1.24 billion (Rs 124 crores) and there are five months to go for the year to end.


    When queried by Businessofcinema.com as to what the company expects to close the year at, Sony Pictures Releasing of India managing director Uday Singh says, “This is just the beginning. We expect Saawariya to change the revenue profile of our company. I don’t want to comment on what our expectations are but the release of Saawariya will change the whole game for Sony Pictures.”


    This is the fourth years since its operations in India, that the company has crossed the Rs 1 billion mark in revenues. In 2002 the company grossed Rs 1.06 billion (Rs 106 crores), in 2004 – Rs 1 billion (Rs 100 crores) and in 2006 – Rs 1.17 billion (Rs 117 crores).


    Revenues have been pouring in from big ticket properties like Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and Ghost Rider. Also contributing to the money tinkling pockets were films like Perfect Stranger, Pursuit of Happyness and Curse of the Golden Flower. Two animation films – Surf’s Up and Ratatouille are scheduled to release in August. Additionally movies like Resident Evil 3, Superbad and Across The Universe will also be released.


    “This will be the biggest year by a stretch for Sony Pictures and Disney in India. We distribute close to 35 – 40 in a year here and we have almost one release lined up every week,” informs Singh.


    In November this year, one will also see the release of the much anticipated release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya, which is being co-produced by Sony Pictures along with Bhansali and stars newcomers Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor. This movie is scheduled to release on 9 November and will be Sony Pictures’ foray into an Indian film production.


    This year also saw Spider-Man 3 dethroning Titanic as the top grossing film in India. The former has till date grossed Rs 642 million (Rs 64.2 crores) at the box office thus shattering the latter’s record of Rs 550 million (Rs 55 crores).


    What’s more, with the increase in revenues, the number of prints of Hollywood films releasing in India have also been steadfastly increasing. Spider-Man 3 released with a total of 588 prints in various Hindi, English and regional languages, whereas Casino Royale, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and Ghost Rider saw a 427, 318 and 305 print release respectively.


    The dubbed film market has also increased with every major Hollywood film being releasing in the Tamil and Telegu languages. Spider-Man 3 went a step ahead by also releasing in the Bhojpuri language.


    Many Hollywood films are also being released day and date with the US, thus ensuring low levels of piracy.


    While Bollywood has so far been having a lackluster year in India, the action from the Hollywood front is only expected to heat up.