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India’s most-awaited movie of the year, PK, is getting its worldwide release on Friday from Disney India. The buildup for the release started even before the cameras began rolling over a year ago as the project reunites the makers of 2008’s 3 Idiots, considered the most successful Indian film ever, which went on to gross an estimated $160 million worldwide.
PK will be released on about 4,000 screens in India and 844 screens in over 40 overseas markets. “PK is set to be the widest Indian film release for day-and-date overseas territories,” said Amrita Pandey, Disney India’s vp and head marketing & distribution studios. “We are focused on making PK reach out to as many fans worldwide as possible. It is being subtitled in 10 languages.”
PK will be the widest Indian movie release in the U.K., opening on 198 screens with plans to expand, if required, starting on Dec. 26. In North America, the film will be seen across nearly 300 screens, with 75 new locations “which have never been exploited theatrically in the past for an Indian film,” according to Pandey.
PK will also see the widest-ever release for a film in Pakistan, opening in over 70 screens since the market re-opened for Indian films in 2007.
And in a first of sorts, in Australia — where the film will open in over 35 screens — the Hoyts cinema chain will have over 600 ushers wearing PK-branded T-shirts for three weeks during the film’s run. “Hoyts has committed seven to eight shows on opening day,” a first for any Hindi film in Australia, added Pandey.
In another first, PK will be the first Bollywood film to be extensively tracked by Rentrak’s recently established India service.
Disney India’s marketing plan kicked off with the first release of the teaser poster back in July, which showed a wide-eyed and naked Khan covering his privates with a radio. Expectedly, the poster generated a fair share of media coverage and even some backlash. But as Hirani told THR, the image was “key art, which is reflective of the film. You can be fully clothed and still be vulgar. And I ask people, how can you see through the radio to know that he is naked? When a baby is born, it is naked — only we talk about shame by turning nudity into an issue.”
As with Hirani’s earlier films before their release, PK‘s plotline has also remained a heavily guarded secret, even when the first trailers — and song teasers — surfaced during the Diwali festival in October. The promos showed Khan in funny situations.
Without revealing much, Hirani said, “We have something very important to say thematically in PK, something very relevant to today’s time. 3 Idiots‘ message was that you chase excellence, and success will come. With PK, I hope to change a thought process, a way of looking at things. And like 3 Idiots, PK also has humor, drama and emotion. I think it will have a lot of resonance.”
Since 3 Idiots also traveled well beyond traditional markets into territories like Turkey, Japan, South Korea and especially China, for PK Disney will also target these markets “in the next few weeks as a delayed release. Many of these markets require localized marketing campaigns and local-language versions and a longer lead time to market the movie,” said Pandey.
Asked about 3 Idiots’ success in China, Hirani said the film worked there as its story — about the intense pressure for college students to succeed at all costs — “has a lot of resonance in their society, too, where students face the same issue.”
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