Setting new benchmarks in India, Spider-Man No Way Home which was released in theatres on December 16 is inching closer to Rs 200 crore mark, making it the biggest Hollywood blockbuster in COVID-19 times.
Despite new releases, the film is continuing its growth momentum in the Indian market and has so far pocketed Rs 183 crore.
Sony Pictures Entertainment India, which released Spider-Man No Way Home, said the film, which earned Rs 32.67 crore on day one in India, had become the highest opening day grosser in Asia and the fifth-highest in the world. The film earned 3.5 times its 2019 predecessor Spider-Man: Far From Home, the company said.
Talking about the release strategy for Spider-Man No Way Home, Vivek Krishnani, Managing Director, Sony Pictures Films India, said that their focus was on tapping the nostalgia factor for the Spider-Man franchise, leveraging the interest for Hollywood ventures and creating anticipation for the film.
"Hollywood led the way for exhibition in the month of October (this year). There were only Hollywood movies in theatres, and then later the local films came from November onwards. We had released Venom before Spider-Man No Way Home. We took that risk to assess how the market is responding and we got a fair bit of understanding of how audiences would respond," said Krishnani.
Sony Pictures Films released the trailer of Spider-Man No Way Home in regional languages along with English and Hindi which received a strong response.
"Dubbing is really helping us and we are doing strategic dubbing to ensure that it reaches people because the quality of dubbing makes a huge difference. We saw that making dubbing more colloquial helped us. The trailer got phenomenal views," he added.
Dubbed languages of the film, including Telugu and Tamil versions, contributed more than double the advanced bookings, compared to Spider-Man: Far From Home and the 2017 release Spider-Man: Homecoming. According to film trade analysts, around 25-30 percent of the box office numbers of Spider-Man No Way Home will be from the version dubbed into Hindi and the rest will be regional and English put together.
To get traction from the pan-India audience, Krishnani said they used local influencers. "We took Spider-Man across eight different cities in eight different malls. We engaged them (audience) with influencers and that became the talking point. By using local influencers in regional markets including Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, our focus was to use influencers to drive urgency for the ticket sale."
He added that in Andhra Pradesh the advances were bigger than Avengers: Endgame which is the biggest Hollywood grosser in India. "In Tamil Nadu, it was tracking second biggest in terms of advance booking. The opening numbers at the box office were bigger than Endgame in Andhra Pradesh," said Krishnani.
When it comes to associating with influencers to market the film, the company also got on board YouTuber Ashish Chanchlani who is one of the top influencers with 12.6 million followers on Instagram and 27.2 million subscribers on YouTube.
"We had Ashish Chanchlani go down to the premiere in Los Angeles for the film. We played up nostalgia for the fans and generated conversation about the multiverse which was the whole point of the film," said Krishnani.
He added that the advances were so strong that when morning shows at 7 AM got sold out they started 6:15 AM shows and even that got sold out. "This kind of hype was unprecedented," he added.
The record of highest advance booking in India is held by the 2019 release Avengers: Endgame which had recorded around Rs 8.27 crore on the opening day of advance booking. Spiderman No Way Home has registered around Rs 6.5 crore in advances, surpassing the day one advance booking revenue of the 2018 release Avengers: Infinity War which had recorded Rs five crore in advances.Overall, the film has become the fourth biggest Hollywood film in India, coming close to the third-highest grosser The Jungle Book that minted Rs 188 crore at the Indian box office.