The population and the monstrous appetite for films in China and India have ensured Hollywood studios make a paradigm shift in the way they make and release films across the world. Earlier Hollywood films were first released in local markets and then sent out to the rest of the 95% population across the world to consume. While China is expected to increase its quota on foreign film exports, departing from the deal signed between the former US VP Jo Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian markets have grown for Hollywood movies after studio heads were informed that multiple languages are spoken in India and films should not just release in English with a single Hindi dubbed version. Under the current scenario, The Great Wall blocks more than 20 imported films a year and foreign distributors are handed out a mere 13% of revenue.
But India does not have such a policy and hence is a large market for Hollywood. The consumption of films in multiple languages — thanks to better dubbing facilities and availability of big local stars, at times, to dub for Hollywood films — has not just increased the awareness, but has also managed to rake in shekels at turnstiles. In bargain, Hollywood films have managed to shout out to local Hindi biggies from the ticket window. This shows how Bollywood filmmakers are now wary to pitch their Hindi or regional films as well when a tentpole film is planted for release. Not surprisingly, more than 50% of The Jungle Book revenue emerged from dubbed versions of the film.
What Hollywood also understands is that films have to release in India when the time is ripe. The Jungle Book came a week before its Hollywood release in India because they did not want to take on Shah Rukh Khan’s film Fan. While fans did not throng to see his film, Hollywood had turned the page for The Jungle Book. Interestingly in 2011, Steven Speilberg’s Tintin — based on the comic book on the Belgian detective — had released two months before in Europe because its makers did not want the movie to clash with the Euro Cup and also because the character is more popular in Europe than in the US.
The movie also released in India before the US. Incidentally, Hollywood films in 2011 opened abroad first — Fast Five and Rio debuted in Brazil; Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol which was set in Dubai opened in the Emirates first; and Transformers: Dark of the Moon in Dmitry Medvedev’s Moscow. Six years later, what happened with the rest of the world earlier is regularly happening in India, China and allied Asian markets as well. After all, the entire population of Europe will remain less than that of these two nations put together.
The author is an entertainment journalist and film critic