Hollywood vs Bollywood: How the titans clash for screen space

Varun Aggarwal Mumbai | Updated on September 20, 2019

File photo   -  REUTERS

With 70-80 releases a year, Hollywood contributes 10-15% to box office revenues

In a country where the domestic movie industry produces as many as 2,000 movies a year, Hollywood flicks are fast catching up and starting to threaten the business of Bollywood’s mega movies.

With only 70-80 releases a year, Hollywood is already contributing to over 10-15 percent of box office revenues. And, action films are the biggest contributor.

Take for instance Avengers Endgame, a movie which was on close to 2,500 multiplex screens and many more single screens. That’s about 80 percent of all multiplex screens being dedicated to just one foreign film.

And that’s now turning into a trend. The upcoming Rambo sequel, Rambo: Last Blood is being screened at more than 1,000 screens, that’s more screen space than movies of popular and highly successful actor Ayushman Khurana’s movies get.

In the last one year, two Hollywood movies have already crossed the ₹100 crore mark while at least three more titles raked in over ₹80 crore each. Avengers Endgame in fact did about ₹350 crore, which is about as much earned by Aamir Khan’s Dangal.

If the performance of the Hollywood releases in the last four years is anything to go by, this space is only going to get bigger, and experts see Hollywood’s share of revenue growing further.

For Inox for example, which has a strong foothold in tier-2 and -3 cities, Hollywood revenues are expected to go from the current 18 percent to over 20 per cent despite high growth in Bollywood revenues at the same time.

“After collectively earning more than ₹1,000 crore for the first time in the last year, this year is all set to witness Hollywood collections crossing newer milestone, and this is a beginning of a very positive trend. It goes on to prove that content is the new hero,” Rajender Singh Jyala, Chief Programming Officer, Inox Leisure, said.

For PVR Cinemas, the share of Hollywood still hovers around 8 percent but it is growing steadily.

“In Bollywood, producers have the understanding that they don’t release a movie on a weekend when another big budget movie is lined up for release. With Avengers Endgame we saw something similar as Bollywood producers stayed away from releasing any of their movies on that weekend and even the weekend after. We see a similar trend continuing with the upcoming release of Rambo: Last Blood,” Sanjeev Bijli, Joint Managing Director, PVR said.

Rise of Hollywood

Until four years ago, no one could have thought of watching an Avengers movie in a small town of Indore. Today, not just big titles like Avengers even smaller Hollywood titles run housefull in the city theatres.

“The rise of social media has created a lot of awareness around Hollywood movies. OTT platforms such as Netflix has further fuelled interest for Hollywood content in India. We see even small movies like Bohemian Rhapsody doing excellent business in a small town like Indore,” Bijli said.

Movie distribution in multiple Indian languages has also been a big driver in making Hollywood a big category. Most big budget Hollywood releases now are dubbed in at least three-four Indian languages, expanding the reach of the content.

“Dubbing instantly works towards enhancing the acceptability of the content. It makes it relevant for the entire universe of audience who are new to Hollywood,” Jyala said.

Movie distributors are even adopting local and regional approaches to promote the movies, through various mediums, be it on ground activation, online and digital promotions or through various other offers.

PVR Cinemas is even trying to get the Hollywood cast to interact with Indian fans.

“Hollywood production houses have started taking Indian cinema very seriously now. While we still haven’t been able to get any of the stars to promote their films here, we did have Robert Downey Jr over a Skype conference to interact with fans in India during the Avengers release,” Bilji said. “It just makes the fans feel a lot closer to the Avengers franchise.”

Another aspect from the supply point of view is the growth in the number of digital 2K screens which are compatible to Hollywood content. The number of 2K screens in the Indian cinema industry is about 4,000, which are well spread across the country.

“The growth of 2K screens help fulfill the growing aspirations of the audiences in small cities markets, which have been fuelling the growth of popularity of Hollywood releases,” Jyala said.

Although revenue numbers look good, experts believe the potential of Hollywood movies is much larger.

“Just 90 Hollywood films are released in India in a year as compared with around 1,800 Indian films. Hollywood films today contribute roughly 10 per cent-15 of Indian box office. The acceptance of English content is on the rise considering the appetite for quality content. The audience today is able to follow international stars and films closely on digital media,” said Preetham Daniel, Senior Vice-President - Asia, Harkness Screens.

Published on September 20, 2019

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