Bollywood posts January-June loss

Hoping for boost from Hollywood co-productions

NEW DELHI -- Bollywood lost about $37.5 million in the first half of 2008, as most films released here sold fewer tickets than expected, a leading business daily reported here Monday.

A survey published by the Economic Times of India also showed ticket receipts of only $75 million for the 47 Hindi-language films released from January through June, well below industry expectations.

Bollywood, the most famous segment of India's vast movie industry, does not have an independent source for boxoffice data.

"It's been a bad year (in that) major films have just tanked," film critic and industry analyst Rajeev Masand told The Hollywood Reporter.

The few successes in the first half of the year included UTV's historical epic "Jodhaa Akbar," which collected $30 million worldwide on the way to recovering its $10 million budget; the action-packed "Race" from the Abbas-Mastan directing duo; and "Jannat" (Heaven), Kunal Deshmukh's look at illegal betting in cricket.

Bollywood's six-month report card puts pressure on the industry to perform in the second half of the year.

"While there have been success stories, the industry is desperate for a breakthrough hit," Masand said.

Hopes were high for the star-studded "Tashan" (Attitude) by veteran banner Yash Raj Films. However, the film was panned by the critics and has battled a boycott by multiplex owners.

Similarly, the early July release of the big budget sci-fi romance "Love Story 2050" by Adlabs Films -- starring actress Priyanka Chopra and newcomer Harman Baweja -- drew negative reviews.

Masand, a critic for the CNN-IBN channel, predicted "Love Story," too, "may deliver below expectations," but added that there may be hope coming from other quarters.

"This year is special because two Hollywood studios -- Disney and Warner -- will bow their productions here," Masand said.

Expected this autumn are both "Roadside Romeo," Disney's animated co-production with Yash Raj, voiced by local star Saif Ali Khan and actress Kareena Kapoor; and Warner Bros.' co-production with veteran filmmaker Ramesh Sippy, "Chandni Chowk to China" (Made in China), starring Akshay Kumar.

As big films in India are traditionally slated for the festive season beginning in October, there is still a chance the year-end boxoffice could achieve the 13% annual growth recently forecast by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

FICCI and PwC reported that India's overall film industry -- Bollywood plus the cinema of the nation's multiple other dialect groups -- tallied 2007 boxoffice receipts of $1.78 billion.
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