Hollywood Movies Make Major Gains in India

'Furious 7'

'Furious 7' and 'Jurassic World' were the top Hollywood earners in 2015, while local releases dominating the box office included epic 'Baahubali.'

Hollywood movies are making major gains in India, a tough market for Western films.

The top 10 Hollywood theatrical releases in the country last year collected about $98 million in box office, up almost 34 percent from $64.7 million in 2014, according to a report by consulting firm KPMG India.

This marked the highest ever growth recorded for the top 10 Hollywood box-office titles in India recorded by KPMG.

The annual report on the overall state of the Indian entertainment industry was released at the three-day Ficci Frames conference in Mumbai that began Wednesday.

“Hollywood's performance last year means that its market share in India increased from about six percent to about eight to nine percent,” KPMG India consultant Jehil Thakkar tells The Hollywood Reporter.

The report also shows that total revenue in 2015 for the Indian film industry was up by about nine percent to $2.09 billion. This would mean that Hollywood's overall market share of this figure amounted to about $188.1 million.

Two main factors driving Hollywood's growth last year were a wider release pattern — which Universal adopted for two of its titles — and the slate of action and superhero franchise titles, "which work well here compared to other genres," according to Thakkar.

While Hollywood titles have always been released on DCI (Digital Cinema Initiative) compliant screens, in a first, Universal also put out Furious 7 and Jurassic World on non-DCI screens. This meant that the screen count for the two titles doubled, with the tentpoles opening on over 2,000 screens each.

DCI is a standard format adopted by the Hollywood studios worldwide. They have established and implemented DCI tech guidelines to ensure uniform and theatrical screening standards. India has a total screen count of about 9,000, but only about 1,500 DCI screens. Given that the market is dominated by local content, Indian films don't have to adhere to DCI standards and therefore open wider than Hollywood releases.

The report stated that Furious 7 was the top Hollywood title in India in 2015 with $23.3 million in box office, followed by Jurassic World with $21.8 million. Both titles crossed the local billion rupee bench mark, the first time two Hollywood titles did so in the same year.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron ($16.2 million), Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation ($11.6 million) and Terminator Genisys ($4.9 million) landed among the top five earners. Star Wars: The Force Awakens landed in the seventh spot with $4.6 million as it competed against two of the biggest Bollywood releases during its opening weekend: top star Shah Rukh Khan's Dilwale and historical drama Bajirao Mastani, starring actresses Priyanka Chopra (Quantico) and Deepika Padukone and actor Ranveer Singh. The film went on to collect over $50 million.

According to the KPMG report, despite some major hits such as Bajrangi Bhaijan, Hindi language Bollywood films had a flat year, although it did not detail the total box office revenue for Bollywood titles. But as an indicator, the report stated that only six of the top ten grossing Bollywood films in 2015 crossed the billion rupee mark while in 2014, nine films surpassed that benchmark. However, mid-budgeted films also made a mark, such as Tanu Weds Manu Returns and Piku. The epic Baahubali was a game changer, becoming the first of its kind crossover hit from the South Indian industry that went on to collect about $90 million. In addition, regional language films also did well.

Looking ahead for Hollywood, Thakkar said the growth trend could continue “now that the studios have seen the potential of releasing major titles on more screens beyond DCI.”

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