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India loves The Jungle Book.
Jon Favreau’s new animated take on the Rudyard Kipling children’s classic bowed to $8.4 million (554.4 million rupees) on its first weekend, which would imply the title recorded the second highest opening for any Hollywood or western title in India. The film bowed here on April 8, a week ahead of its U.S. release.
That take puts The Jungle Book behind only Fast & Furious 7, which opened last year to $10.6 million (700 million rupees), making it the most successful Hollywood bow ever in the territory, according to local reports. India does not officially report box office earnings.
Overall, The Jungle Book recorded the second highest opening for any title this year in India, behind only Bollywood title Airlift.
“The Jungle Book has been outstanding at the Indian box office and has the potential to touch $10.6 million (about 700 million rupees) in its first week alone,” trade analyst Taran Adarsh told The Hollywood Reporter.
The result is all the more impressive because India’s censors, in a controversial move, slapped the film with a UA rating, equivalent to a PG rating in the U.S., claiming the movie’s 3D effects were “too scary” for young children and limiting The Jungle Book‘s Indian audience.
It remains to be seen if at some point The Jungle Book can cross the local box office bench mark of one billion rupees ($17 million), a feat which Furious 7 achieved within its first week. But that title had a distinct advantage: Universal opened Furious 7 on more screens, at about 2,800, compared to The Jungle Book, which Disney India released on about 1,600 screens.
As with most Hollywood tentpoles in India, The Jungle Book was released in the original English version and also dubbed in regional languages. In a bid to further widen its appeal, the film’s Hindi version was voiced by top Bollywood stars including Priyanka Chopra (Quantico), Irrfan Khan (Jurassic World) and Om Puri (The Hundred Foot Journey), among others. Typically with a major Hollywood release, more than half the Indian box office comes from a film’s dubbed versions.
Universal had a wider release for both Furious 7 and Jurassic World in India than is typical for a Hollywood film here. In a first for the market, the studio released both titles on screens outside the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI), a network of around 1,500 digital screens in India that comply to certain technical standards that guarantee uniform screening conditions. Usually Hollywood films are only put out on DCI screens, limiting their release in a country with around 9,000 screens. Bollywood movies, which dominate the market here, usually have much wider releases than Hollywood films and larger box office grosses.
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