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Avatar's lesson for Bollywood

A good business plan, smart marketing skills and a great story line can easily break the language barrier, reach out to larger audiences and reap in the riches, even if it is a Hollywood film fighting for the spoils with a Bollywood blockbuster.

Shamni Pande        Print Edition: February 7, 2010

A good business plan, smart marketing skills and a great story line can easily break language barriers, reach out to larger audiences and reap in the riches, even if it is a Hollywood film fighting for the spoils with a Bollywood blockbuster. That is the key lesson Bollywood may learn from the success of Avatar.

After an indifferent year, cash registers at cinema halls began jingling in the last month of 2009, thanks, at least initially, to a successful run of Hollywood blockbusters such as 2012 and Avatar.

Success for Avatar did not come easy, though. The team at Fox Star Studio, which marketed and distributed the film in India, began its spadework 10 months ahead of its release: There were only 12 digital (3D-capables) screens in India when Ice Age was released around seven months ago, but by the time Avatar was launched, the distributors had convinced others to invest in such screens. Over 60 digital screens showed the film. The dual price strategy helped as well—the ticket prices were higher on weekends and for 3D, going up to Rs 300, whereas they were lower for a normal version in tier-II towns and smaller screens.

While one cannot compare the easy reach that a Bollywood film has with any Hollywood movie in India, the way audiences are now veering towards foreign films is nothing to be sniffed at. "The threat is growing as Hollywood films dubbed in local languages, increase their reach," says an observer. Says Vijay Singh, CEO of Fox Star Studio India: "We are very happy with the way Avatar has performed. Its collections were the highest in the opening week for any Hollywood film." While not all Hollywood releases do as well, many are ramping up their scale of distribution, marketing and operations, say trade analysts.

This is precisely why, a small film such as Hangover, which did not have a big-star cast, grossed Rs 6 crore in India. "India today has a young population and language barriers are melting. Hence, most good-content movies do stand a fair chance at the box-office," says Ranjan Singh, Marketing Head (Worldwide), PVR Pictures.

 

Special Effects

  • Avatar had over 750 prints, many of which were dubbed in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.
  • Fox Studio held road shows with theatre operators 10 months ahead of release.
  • Fox Studio also aided credit needs of small exhibitors.

Other Top Hollywood Grossers

  • 2012 (2009): Rs 90 crore
  • Spiderman 3 (2009): Rs 68 crore
  • Titanic (1997): Rs 55 crore
  • Quantum of Solace (2008): Rs 44.5 crore

 

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