NEW DELHI: The reopening of the overseas market, especially the US and the UK, bodes well for Indian cinema that gets close to 40% of its international business from these territories. In 2019, the Indian film industry made nearly Rs2,700 crore in foreign shores.
While New York in the US is all set to open from 5 March, with Los Angeles expected to follow, the UK is likely to give a go-ahead for May. This will help better recovery not just for Indian film offerings but also encourage more Hollywood film releases, that look to recoup investments globally, in turn, helping the Indian market where there is major appeal for them.
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“New York and LA are hubs for cinema business in the US and are crucial not just for Hollywood films but even for Hindi movies, contributing a bulk of the business (from overseas territories for Bollywood),” movie trade website Box Office India said in a blog.
Reopening in the UK may be too late to truly capitalise on the Eid weekend that is big for Bollywood business there, along with Christmas, but the portal said at least the two major festival releases, Salman Khan’s Radhe and John Abraham’s Satyameva Jayate 2 will find showcasing there even though cinemas would have just started operating.
To be sure, while big feature film actors and stars remain popular among NRI audiences who still thrive on nostalgia and a craving for home fuelled by typical Bollywood fare, the Indian diaspora is opening up a lot more to niche, narratives and fresh faces.
In 2019, Taapsee Pannu’s mystery thriller Badla made more than $1.3 million (Rs9 crore) in the US within five weeks. Vicky Kaushal’s war drama Uri: The Surgical Strike played in the US for 10 weeks, making $2.7 million (Rs18.7 crore) and for eight weeks in the UK, earning £ 133,536 (Rs1.2 crore). Earlier, family drama Badhaai Ho had collected $1.8 million (Rs12.4 crore) in the US and £241,488 (Rs2.1 crore) in the UK, both in a span of eight weeks.
Kunal Sawhney, senior vice-president at Carnival Cinemas, said the reopening of overseas territories is good news for filmmakers who may not want to be completely dependent on box office collections within India.
With covid cases rising again, particularly in states like Maharashtra that have not yet allowed 100% occupancy in theatres, some apprehension remains on the part of filmmakers. Plus, there is reason for Hollywood to go ahead with its plans now, with more of the world now available for recovery. Starting with science fiction adventure Chaos Walking and monster film Godzilla vs Kong, several US films are lined up for release in the coming weeks.
“The inspiration comes from India itself where films have done so well in states like Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh lately,” Sawhney added.