India Box Office: 'Jungle Book' Becomes Top Hollywood Release Ever

The Jungle Book Still 7 - H 2016
Courtesy of Disney

The Jungle Book Still 7 - H 2016

Released in the country a week ahead of the U.S., the Jon Favreau film has beaten previous record holder 'Furious 7' by grossing $23.7 million in its first 12 days.

The Jungle Book is going wild in India, the country that inspired Rudyard Kipling to pen his famous tales about Mowgli's adventures.

Disney India said on Wednesday that the film has within its first 12 days of release grossed $23.7 million (1.57 billion rupees), making it the highest-grossing Hollywood release in the country ever. Its gross already exceeds previous record holder Furious 7, which grossed a total of $23.4 million (1.55 billion rupees) during its theatrical run last year.

The Jungle Book opened in India on April 8, a week ahead of its U.S. release. Now in its second week, The Jungle Book's performance is all the more impressive given it opened on about 1,500 screens, compared to the 2,800-screen count for Universal's Furious 7.

Last year, Universal had a wider release in India for both Furious 7 and Jurassic World, which also crossed the local benchmark of 1 billion rupees, than is typical for a Hollywood film. 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 with certain technical standards that guarantee uniform screening conditions.

Hollywood films are typically only put out on DCI screens, limiting their release in a country with fewer than 9,000 screens. Indian movies, which dominate the local market and are not limited by DCI restrictions, have much wider releases than Hollywood films and hence larger box-office grosses.

"While The Jungle Book had an intrinsic India connect that we fully amped up, the love for the film from critics and audiences alike shows that our innovative efforts to take the legacy of the adventure tale to the next level worked and how!," Disney India vp - studios, Amrita Pandey tells The Hollywood Reporter.

As with major Hollywood tentpoles, The Jungle Book was also dubbed into local languages, with those versions contributing over half of its box office in India. The film's Hindi version drew on the star power of top Bollywood talent who lent their voices: Irrfan Khan (Jurassic World) dubbed Baloo (voiced by Bill Murray in the original), Priyanka Chopra (Quantico) dubbed Kaa (Scarlett Johansson) and Om Puri (The Hundred Foot Journey) dubbed Bageera (Ben Kingsley), while Nana Patekar dubbed Shere Khan (Idris Elba).

“We didn’t look at it as just a big Hollywood movie,” says Pandey. “We creatively treated it like a big Hindi movie release... We spent many days with our Hindi dialog writer to make each character's dialogues locally relevant and nuanced with cultural references.”

Meanwhile, Favreau's connection with India will be cemented further with his 2014 title Chef, in which he starred as a professional chef who quits his job to run his own food truck in Los Angeles, which is getting a Bollywood remake. The film, which is currently being scripted, will star actor Saif Ali Khan in the role played by Favreau, and will be directed by Raja Krishna Menon. “I am very excited to be a part of this film," said Khan. "Jon Favreau is a genius and a very cool film mind."