Kumar, Snoop Dogg crown 'Kinng'

Claims highest worldwide opening gross for an Indian film

NEW DELHI -- "Singh Is Kinng" made Bollywood boxoffice history over the weekend thanks to the star power of leads Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif and a little help from Snoop Dogg.

"Kinng," which featured a Snoop Dogg guest rap in the end credits, logged the highest-ever worldwide opening for an Indian film at $14.9 million. Indian ticket sales accounted for $11.3 million of that, according to figures from Mumbai-based distributor the Indian Film Co.

Previous record holder "Om Shanti Om" opened in December to an estimated $12.3 million worldwide.

Released on 1,800 screens -- 400 more than "Om Shanti Om" -- "Kinng" collected $3.6 million overseas, with U.S. ticket sales contributing $1.1 million and the U.K. $910,000.

"There is no doubt that 'Kinng' ... has galvanized the boxoffice, considering this year has not seen any major hits," Mumbai-based film trade analyst Taran Adarsh said Monday.

With India heading into a long weekend for its Independence Day (Aug. 15), Adarsh added that "Kinng" should continue to perform strongly.

"Kinng" producer Vipul Shah predicted that, by the end of its first week, the $12.5 million-budgeted film would "easily surpass" the $19 million worldwide gross of "Om Shanti Om."

The "Kinng" buzz gained steam last month with the release of its soundtrack on Mumbai-based label Junglee Music. The album features a first-of-its-kind collaboration on the title track between Snoop Dogg, U.K.-based North Indian bhangra music trio RDB and Kumar. According to Junglee Music, the "Kinng" soundtrack has sold 500,000 units since its July 4 release.

Snoop Dogg's participation was coordinated by L.A.- and Mumbai-based promotions agency Cashmere Asia, whose chairman, Ted Chung, also is vp A&R at Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle Records.

The success of "Kinng" comes despite opposition from Sikh community leaders for its portrayal of Sikh characters. Kumar plays Happy Singh, a comic Sikh simpleton from a village in Punjab in North India who ends up traveling to Egypt and Australia.

Shah and Kumar held meetings with Sikh leaders, who cleared the film for release Thursday Aug. 7. Some Sikh protesters tried to disrupt a screening in Amritsar city in Punjab, but they were detained by police outside the cinema.

Meanwhile, Kumar's next release, slated for December, "Chandni Chowk To China" (earlier titled "Made In China"), also is creating buzz given it is Warner Bros.' Bollywood debut here and co-produced with veteran filmmaker Ramesh Sippy.

The Indian Film Co. is owned by Mumbai-based media conglomerate Network 18 -- whose ventures include Viacom 18, a broadcasting partnership with Viacom Inc. Last June, TIFC listed on London's Alternative Investment Market, where it raised $113 million.