Indians’ love for the spectacle and animation films started way back in the ’90s when movies such as Jurassic Park, Men in Black and Lion King went on to be the biggest revenue earners. The last decade has seen an even more significant growth. “The response to Hollywood films in India has improved over the years. It is mostly because of the exposure to these films through social media. Today, when the first look of a film is out in the West, Indians have access to it in real time,” says Vikram Malhotra, COO, Viacom18.
With a spate of spectacle films — from super-spy, superhero thrillers, animation films to action-adventure and disaster films lined up for release in India this summer — Hollywood market is likely to grow bigger. “Indians view movies as an escape and that’s what these kinds of films provide,” says Kercy Daruwala, MD – Sony Pictures India. The movie season starts with Men In Black 3 on May 25, followed by Madagascar 3 –Europe’s Most Wanted on June 8, G.I.Joe Retaliation on June 22, The Amazing Spiderman on July 6, The Dark Knight Rises on July 20 and Ice Age Continental Drift on July 27. The feast of Hollywood movies wraps up with James Bond’s Skyfall on November 2.
According to Roy Kapur, even though Hollywood has made an impact on the Indian market, visually appealing movies remain a favourite. “Indians want to watch visually-strong films,” he says. Daruwala attributes this to our love for mythology. “Every Indian loves a good versus evil story featuring larger-than-life characters,” he says.
The biggest proof of growing Hollywood market in India lies in the fact that some of their most-awaited movies have been released in India even before their US release. Most of them are subtitled in different local languages to appeal to the audience in Tier II and III cities. For instance, the lead actor of Mission Impossible: The Ghost Protocol, Tom Cruise, had flown down to India to promote it. The film, which had Anil Kapoor in a brief appearance, earned Rs 40 crore in India. The final instalment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon earned around Rs 40 crore each, while Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides raked in Rs 34 crore in India.
“Indian audiences love the thrill of watching a film first and they spend a lot of time talking about them, especially on social media. We are confident that the Indian audience will love The Amazing Spiderman as well, especially since it has an India connect,” says Daruwala, adding that Sony Pictures is releasing this movie and Skyfall in India before its world release. Such a move also helps in countering piracy which is rampant in India, adds Roy Kapur.
Despite the success of these movies in India, Indian filmmakers haven’t shown much interest in working on similar themes. “Budget constraints and the lack of technical expertise deter Indian filmmakers from dabbling in this genre,” says Malhotra.