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A record year for Hollywood studios in India

R. Ravikumar

Sony Pictures turnover crosses Rs 100-cr mark, third time in a row


Bond breaks records
Maximum number of prints — 427 — for a Hollywood film in India
Largest opening day for any foreign film in India (Friday, November 17) - Rs 4.74 crore
Largest single day for a foreign film in India (on Sunday) Rs 5.2 crore
Largest opening weekend - Rs 14.94 crore
Second largest grosser of all times for any foreign language film in India - Rs 39.9 crore as of date. (Largest ever being Titanic with Rs 55 crore from with 200 prints).


A HANDOUT photo showing Daniel Craig in Casino Royale.

Chennai , Dec. 22

With around 75 films and Rs 200 crore at the box office, the year 2006 was perhaps the best year for Hollywood studios in India. This was against 55 films and Rs 185 crore in 2005.

"More and more titles are being released day and date with the US to kill piracy at one end and to cash in on the global marketing campaign at another," says Mr Uday Singh, Managing Director, Sony Pictures Releasing India (previously Columbia TriStar Films of India).

Sony Pictures alone grossed over Rs 116 crore this year, crossing the Rs 100-crore mark for the third time in a row, which again the company claims is a record for Hollywood studios in India.

Good content

With good content from Hollywood and Bollywood, footfalls have increased at theatres as movies have become the first choice for out-of-home entertainment, says Mr Singh.

The company distributed many Hollywood blockbusters such as Spiderman, Godzilla, Spiderman II and Casino Royale. "Content is king and at the end of the day, it is content that keeps people coming back to theatres. The Hollywood pipeline is rather strong in terms of content and this is evident from the quality of films — be it The Da Vinci Code or Casino Royale," he says.

Weekend collections

The hype with which the film arrives at the retail end is responsible for the opening weekend collections, which then determine the playability of the film as post-Friday, the film's run is purely based on the word of mouth that is built for the film. Interesting and extensive brand and media partnerships add to the buzz and increase the audience base significantly. As the theatre business is today totally a weekend business, it is crucial to launch a film with a 360-degree marketing campaign and go with a wide release plan, so as to maximise the revenue potential of the film, Mr Singh says.

Multiplexes

According to him, in 2006, malls and multiplexes substantially added to the kitty as the ticket prices are much higher than those in single screens. Then there is differential pricing — premium pricing for preview shows, for weekend shows, for `A' category films - that has bolstered collections.

Increased space and screen time, and value-for-money cinematic experience, too, came as a boon. An added boost came from multiplex teams integrating their activities with the overall campaign developed by distribution houses. This has also contributed to the `consumer pull' factor.

"Today, multiplexes contribute about 40 per cent of the overall box-office collections, clearly proving beyond doubt the point that they have become the key outlets for cinema exhibition. If the number of multiplexes here is to grow at the same pace as it did in 2006, we'll be doing 700 - 750 screens for an English film in India," says Mr Singh.

Dubbed versions

Dubbed versions supported by localised consumer-centric campaigns take playability of Hollywood films beyond metros, thereby adding to ticket sales. These dubbed versions contribute almost 50 per cent of the company's revenue.

The company claims to have done around 427 prints with Casino Royale including dubbed versions, the highest ever for a Hollywood film in India.

The film is dubbed into three regional languages — Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Distribution

Sony Pictures, apart from distributing films from its mother company Sony Pictures Entertainment, also distributes films on behalf of Buena Vista International (a distribution arm of Walt Disney Pictures).

Sony is set to distribute around 30 titles including biggies such as Spider-Man 3 (May 4) and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (May 25). Mr Singh expects Spider-Man 3 to be the next biggest Hollywood hit. Besides, Sony Pictures is also set to co-produce a Hindi film with ace director Sanjay Leela Bhansali — Saawariya, which is likely to be released in November 2007.

"With all these, we expect the year 2007 to be bigger than 2006," he declares. According to Mr Singh, with Saawariya, Sony Pictures hopes to almost double its revenues next year.

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