Hollywood is booming in India and one reason for this is big franchises. Among all the franchises it has come up with, Avengers seems to be the most popular with many of the films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) turning out to be cinematic giants at the Indian ticket windows.
Every character from the MCU has become a brand in itself, building a strong fan-base in the country.
While there are many Hollywood franchises that have been successful, none of them have come close to what Disney has done in India.
Talking to Moneycontrol, Amit Sharma, MD, Miraj Cinemas, explained that Disney’s marketing is better than its competitor and this is because they understand the market better. "Disney puts a lot of effort in dubbing. If you watch Endgame in Hindi it is as hilarious in Hindi as it is in English. Because they don’t translate but rewrite the dialogues. Disney understands markets far better than its competitor," Sharma said.
This is probably why “Avengers as a franchise is the number one ranking franchise in the world. All the top three films (in India) belong to Disney (Endgame, Infinity and The Jungle Book). Even for The Jungle Book, they got the song – “Jungle Jungle pata chala hai” – redone. Disney has an edge over its competitor in understanding the market,” underlined Sharma.
Ranking the popular franchises in India, Sharma said, “In India, the most famous is Marvel and then SpiderMan. MI (Mission Impossible) and Fast and Furious is one of the best franchises. Even Bond films do well in India.”
There is no denying that Avengers has more takers than any other Hollywood franchise, but Sharma brings to notice that the scenario for the franchise changed only after Infinity War.
“Avengers films, before Infinity War, ranged between Rs 70-80 crore. Iron Man 3, Avengers part one and part two – all these films are in the Rs 70-Rs 100 crore range. Infinity War crossed the Rs 200 crore mark and it became a rage, and as a result, Endgame is close to breaching the Rs 350 crore mark.”
Besides, he also put into perspective the success of other franchises in India. “Fast and Furious 7 and 8 are close to Rs 100 crore; and now Shaw and Hobbs is also expected to make Rs 100 crore. The entire MI series has done fantastic business in India.”
This is probably why Hollywood studios are going all out to woo the Indian audience. In fact, Fast and Furious: Hobbs and Shaw will release in 10 local languages in India including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Marathi, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Malayalam, Kannada and Bengali.
So what is making India so lucrative for English films?
Explaining what Hollywood has done in India in the last 20-25 years, Sharma said, “Before 2010, we either had the print projectors or the e-projectors (the start of digitalisation). During the analogue time, it was difficult to recover the cost. At that time, a big Hollywood release would release in maximum 200-300 screens whereas the smaller films would go down to 100 screens. Hence, Hollywood was considered only a top Tier I city-centric market.”
But things have changed for the better after the digital era. “Now we have the biggest release in India –Avengers Endgame – in 2,845 screens. Of this, we also have Tamil and Telugu consumption. These guys know that the number of screens is 3,000 for digital so I can dub in local languages and get more audience. For them, India is not one country it is like the European Union. In Europe, they dub the movie in 15-odd languages. And the same thing they are trying to do with India,” he added.
He also added that “In most of the places, the multiplex market has already matured. Everywhere the box office collection for a huge film remains almost the same. For instance, in India, if you look at a film which was earlier doing a business of Rs 30-50 crore, is now in the range of Rs 80-100 crore. Over a period of time, the number of screens is increasing and new territories are opening up. OTT and television has pushed the consumption of English movies staggeringly.”
For Avengers Endgame, India has become the sixth largest foreign market. Commenting on this Sharma said, “If India starts clocking in the top 10 films, then you will probably find Hollywood celebrities coming here and promoting the films in India.