Dubbing into different Indian languages helps reach a wider audience base, leading to increase in contribution to overall revenue collection in India
The highly anticipated spin-off of the Fast and Furious franchise, Hobbs and Shaw, released its second trailer in 10 Indian languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Marathi, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Malayalam, Kannada and Bengali.
The film is slated to release in August this year.
Releasing in at least three local languages in India has become a trend with English films as these versions contribute as much as 50-60 percent of Hollywood’s business in India.
According to a KPMG report, over the last few years, nearly 40 percent English releases are dubbed in at least one regional language.
And why is that? Because dubbing into different Indian languages helps reach wider audience base, leading to increase in the contribution from dubbed versions to overall revenue collection in Indian market.
And at a time when an English film (Avengers Endgame raked in over Rs 350 crore in India) is breaking records of Indian ventures and revealing the true potential of the Indian market for Hollywood movies, it is important for such offerings to take notice of the rising trend.
In fact, Disney has been aggressively pushing for the localisation strategy which has made its characters connect more with the Indian audience.
“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 English. They don’t translate, but rewrite the dialogues. Disney understands markets far better than its competitor," said Amit Sharma, MD, Miraj Cinemas.
As a matter of fact, the top three highest-grossing Hollywood films in India belong to Disney.
Big names have come on board to dub English films in local languages. For Deadpool 2, that hit Indian theatres on May 8 last year, Ranveer Singh had lent his voice for the Hindi trailer. Similarly, south superstar Rana Daggubati lent his voice to Thanos in the Telugu version of Avengers: Infinity War.
For the Hindi version of the 2016 release The Jungle Book, Disney had hired popular actors like Priyanka Chopra performing Kaa, Irrfan Khan Baloo, Om Puri Bagheera, Shefali Shah Raksha and Nana Patekar Shere Khan.
The film had garnered more than half of the box office revenues from non-English versions. The dubbed contribution was a staggering 56 percent and English was 44 percent.
Explaining Hollywood’s penetration in India, Sharma said, “Before 2010, we either had the print projectors or the e-projectors (the start of digitalisation). In print 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.”
“In the digital era, you have 2K projectors going all around the country. Now we have the biggest release in India in 2,845 screens — Avengers Endgame. Now out of this entire film you have Tamil, Telugu consumption. These guys know that number of screens is 3,000 for digital 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.”
Box office collections of the dubbed versions of English films validate the success of Hollywood’s localisation push in India. In 2016, contribution of the dubbed versions of Captain America: Civil War and Finding Dory stand at 41 percent and 21 percent, respectively.
In 2015, Avengers: Age of Ultron’s dubbed contribution was 45 percent, Ant-man’s local versions got 27 percent business while Star Wars: A Force Awakens dubbed versions earned 15 percent of the overall revenue.
The local language versions of Captain America: Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy managed to get 33 percent and 27 percent respectively, of the overall revenues.
Talking to Moneycontrol, Rahul Puri, MD of Mukta Arts Ltd and Mukta A2 Cinema, said, "Hollywood has understood that their films are watched by people whose first language is not English far more than those who are comfortable in that language. Hence, they have steadily increased the number of languages they dub their films into over the last few years.”
“I would expect Hollywood to continue to do this to build a higher market share in India as Avengers Endgame has done," he added.
Hollywood films are targeting both big and small markets equally, considering the growing content consumption in tier II and III markets.
Over the past few years, the audiences have grown more discerning about the movies they watch, appreciate different genres and have become language agnostic. Good cinematic experience of Hollywood movies has been appreciated by audiences across different demographics in India.
This has led to an increase in the number of these movies being dubbed into regional languages.“Customisation of content is importance right now. Hollywood films, with its sense of spectacle and escapism, is palatable to movie-going audiences all over India - not just in metros. It stands to reason then that they would woo the regional viewed by dubbing in those languages and even tailoring region specific marketing plans. This also gives them more revenue opportunities - given that a whole new section of audiences open up with these dubbed releases,” said Siddharth Anand Kumar, VP Films and Television Saregama India and Producer at Yoodlee Films.