Is Hollywood turning out to be a far more lethal force than ever before at the Indian box office? Is it truly invading the market in a very big way? Is the exhibition and distribution circuit relying upon movies arriving from West to keep the footfalls going?
Well, if the last few months are any indication, then the answer is a solid yes. The sheer number of successes in just the first half of the year is better than ever and the trend is continuing well into the second half of the year too, if one goes by the response to films that have released in July.
It’s not that Hollywood films haven’t done well in India in the past. Just last year we saw Christmas release Avatar: Way of Water smash previous records. Avengers as a franchise has been huge. Franchises like Fast and the Furious; Mission: Impossible, Jurassic World, James Bond, Spider-Man have traditionally resulted in very good box office openings and then final outcome as well. In between, some other biggies like The Lion King or The Jungle Book have come as well and made waves. Horror franchises like Conjuring have steady takers as well.
However, and that’s a big point here, successes like these have been spread out in the past. Maybe once a couple of months or a quarter, a big Hollywood movie would come and makes waves, churn hundreds of crores, smash everything around it and then it was back to Bollywood business in most parts of India. However, in the last few months, the frequency of Hollywood hits in Indian theatres has increased dramatically.
No, majority of these are not tentpole films or event affairs. They are not cited to be the next big thing either. Still, openings around Rs 5 crore are being seen Friday after Friday, something that used to be in Bollywood’s alley till before the pandemic.
So while audiences have become far more selective about the Hindi films they watch, and only occasionally lap them up, when it comes to Hollywood biggies, at least the first day numbers have started turning out to be consistently good.
In the seven months of 2023 so far, there are already three double-digit openers that Hollywood has seen in the form of Oppenheimer, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning and Fast X. Then there are a couple of movies that have broken the Rs 5 crore ceiling – Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. Quite a few have come quite close to that mark as well in the form of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, Barbie, The Flash and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.
Then of course there are franchise offerings like John Wick: Chapter 4 (which is turning out to be big), Evil Dead Rise and Insidious: The Red Door which have each gone past the Rs 2 crore opening day mark and that too at a small release.
Indeed, some level of predictability has started coming in for Hollywood releases in India – their opening could range from average to excellent, but at least it’s in lines with industry insiders’ expectations. On the other hand, big Bollywood releases are far apart now, as can be gauged from the four-week gap between the release of SatyaPrem Ki Katha and Rocky aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani. Luckily for those in the business of distributing and exhibiting films, when Jawaan postponed its June launch, Zara Hatke Zara Bachke filled the vacuum and emerged as a superhit. One shudders to think how the May and June numbers might have looked if not for the success of The Kerala Story.
The Bollywood calendar for the next five months between August and December must have a steady stream of releases, and a flurry of successes comes too. Otherwise, a Hollywood invasion is pretty much on the cards and the list below will only get longer.
Opening day collections of Hollywood films in India:
Oppenheimer – Rs 14.50 crore* (including paid previews)
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One- Rs 12.27 crore
Fast X – Rs 11.90 crore
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania – Rs 8.10 crore
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 – Rs 6.55 crore
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts – Rs 4.75 crore
Barbie – Rs 4.50 crore*
The Flash – Rs 4.30 crore
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – Rs 4.20 crore
John Wick: Chapter 4 – Rs 2.50 crore
*Estimates. Final numbers awaited
Note: All collections as per production and distribution sources