'Avengers: Endgame' Sets Hollywood Opening Weekend Box Office Record in India

Courtesy of Marvel Studios
'Avengers: Endgame'

In a market traditionally dominated by local fare, the blockbuster recorded the biggest opening weekend for a Hollywood release and the second-biggest opening ever, grossing $25.7 million.

Disney/Marvel's Avengers: Endgame recorded the highest opening weekend box office for a Hollywood film ever in India and the second biggest opening weekend performance for any movie in the country, grossing $25.7 million (1.87 billion rupees).

The performance was also seen as a wake-up call for the local industry, which has traditionally dominated cinema in the country.

India does not report box office figures, but 2016's Baahubali: The Conclusion is widely considered to have recorded the highest opening weekend for any Indian film so far, grossing 3.85 billion rupees ($59.8 million). According to a local box office analyst and media reports, Endgame's opening weekend performance ranks behind that, surpassing other mainstream Hindi-language Bollywood films.

What is even more significant is that Endgame had a monster opening with a release on fewer screens than local blockbusters typically do. "#AvengersEndgame shatters the myth that a massive screen count is the key to collect big numbers on Day 1/weekend," film trade analyst Taran Adarsh pointed out in a tweet. He explained that the film was released on 2,845 screens, "but its occupancy is much, much higher than *Hindi* biggies that open in 4,000+ screens."

By contrast, Baahubali: The Conclusion, like its 2015 prequel Baahubali: The Beginning, was a South Indian production in the Telugu language which was also dubbed in Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam, and reportedly opened on about 6,500 screens in India.

As is the case with any major Hollywood release in India, Endgame was also dubbed in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. But Hollywood films are typically only put out on Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) screens in India, which adhere to the studios' DCI technical standards, limiting their release in a country with fewer than 9,000 screens. As a result, Indian movies, which dominate the local market and are not limited by DCI restrictions, have much wider releases than Hollywood films.

Regardless, Endgame still crossed a billion rupees — the local benchmark for top performers — in its first two days, after grossing $9 million (632 million rupees) Friday and $8.75 million (611 million rupees) Saturday, according to a tweet from Adarsh.

The previous installment in the franchise, last year's Avengers: Infinity War is estimated to have collected $13.5 million (943 million rupees) from just over 2,000 screens, recording the highest opening for a Hollywood film until Endgame's monster opening.

Endgame's performance has also led observers to analyze how a Hollywood breakout can offer a serious threat to the dominance of mainstream Hindi language Bollywood.

"Bollywood needs to up its game. It's been taking audiences for granted for too long. And so opened the door to Hollywood," tweeted director Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) reflecting on the box office impact of Endgame. He added: "Now we have no choice but to compete with Hollywood. Be more internationally competitive. Songs/dances will get us just so far. Need to go beyond." In another tweet, Kapur questioned, "As Hollywood edges out local films as it did in the rest of the world, is this a new colonisation?"

Last year, Avengers: Infinity War became Hollywood's highest-grossing film in India, reaching $31.6 million (2.22 billion rupees) during its entire theatrical run. The blockbuster ended up contributing a fourth of Hollywood's total revenue in India in 2018 and boosted Hollywood films' market share in the country from about 8 percent in 2017 to 10 percent.

According to a recent report by consultancy Ernst and Young India, despite its minority market share, Hollywood had a "blockbuster" year in 2018 with total revenue reaching an all-time high of $132 million (9.2 billion rupees), up from $115 million (8.01 billion rupees) in 2017. India's total theatrical revenue also reached a milestone last year, crossing the 100 billion rupees, or $1.4 billion, mark for the first time, compared with $1.38 billion (96.3 billion rupees) in 2017.

Directed by the Russo brothers, Endgame is the 22nd installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the culmination of an 11-year journey that began with Iron Man in 2008. Endgame obliterated numerous records in its $1.2 billion worldwide launch — a mind-boggling opening that came in nearly $600 million ahead of the previous mark set a year ago by Avengers: Infinity War.