'New Moon' rises in India Dec. 11

Second 'Twilight' film to get six times more prints

NEW DELHI -- “New Moon” will bow December 11 in India with more prints than its predecessor, following the release of “Twilight” last weekend.

While boxoffice figures for “Twilight” were not given, PVR Pictures said the film was released in its original English version (without local dubbed versions) on 52 screens in major cities where it “witnessed a very good opening with over 60% occupancy ratio on the weekend” and that the film will also open in smaller towns soon.

“New Moon," which PVR Cinemas was scheduled to release on December 4, has been postponed to December 11 but it will see a wider release with over 300 prints and dubbed in Hindi with the title “Amavasya” and “Digilan” in Tamil and Telugu.

“New Moon”'s postponed release is probably explained by the December 4 opening of anticipated Bollywood release “Paa,” featuring a casting coup of sorts with iconic superstar Amitabh Bachchan playing a 13-year-old boy suffering from progeria, a rare genetic aging disease, while his real-life son Abhishek plays his onscreen father. However on December 11, “New Moon” will take on “Rocket Singh," produced by top Bollywood banner Yash Raj Films.

The popularity of the “Twilight” franchise is also seen in sales of the books published here by Hachette India who report that collectively about 300,000 copies have been sold, with this figure expected to rise further following the release of the films.

“The overwhelming response that we have received for 'Twilight' has been extremely encouraging. With record-breaking collections that 'New Moon' has achieved internationally in its opening weekend, we are very excited to release it across the country. We are confident that it will break the record set by '2012' and become one of the biggest films of the year," PVR Pictures head, distribution (worldwide) Deepak Sharma said.

Released on November 13, “2012” clocked the second-highest opening for any Hollywood film here collecting $4.16 million (191.5 million rupees), a whisker away from the 191.7 million rupees clocked by the highest opening for any Hollywood film, 2007's “Spiderman 3” according to figures from Mumbai-based Sony Pictures Releasing India.

In its second weekend SPRI said “2012” collected about $2.28 million with its total India take at about $9.6 million as of November 22, which observers reckon could eventually cross “Spider-Man 3”'s total take of $14.25 million -- the highest ever for any Hollywood film here. “2012” opened with 299 prints in Hindi, 110 in Tamil and 124 in Telegu (which include an additional 32 prints added after the first weekend).

Given that foreign films only command less than 10% of the market here, the performance of these recent Hollywood releases are notable though there has been less than expected domestic competition. While boxoffice figures for last weekend's Bollywood terrorism drama “Kurbaan” (Sacrifice) have not yet been released by its banner UTV Motion Pictures, industry observers reckon the film has performed below expectations.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on Fox's “Avatar” that opens here December 18, expected to be one of the widest releases with dubbed versions and more in 3D for which about 55 screens will be ready.