It started with JURASSIC PARK . Later, TITANIC , ANACONDA , GODZILLA , THE MUMMY , SPIDER-MAN , SPIDER-MAN 2 , HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE  and KING KONG  posed a threat to Hindi films during their premiere release. In fact, almost every Hindi film in the orbit got eclipsed by their presence.
This week, something similar occurred when CASINO ROYALE, the new James Bond film, thrashed its oppositions in the Indian market.
Barring VIVAH, practically all Hindi films, including the three new releases [REHGUZAR, JANANI, UNNS], were affected by the stupendous start of the new Bond thriller. I haven't come across a single person who has disliked the new Bond film. The international press as well as the Indian media has showered the film with glowing reviews. And the exuberant praise translated into superb collections all through the weekend.
Sony Pictures, the Hollywood studio that has distributed the Bond film worldwide, has sent a note to this writer about its business in India, which I want to share with the readers…
CASINO ROYALE opened across 452 screens on 427 prints, to a huge Rs. 14.94 crores at the box-office [17th-19th November]. This phenomenal 3-day opening has set new benchmarks for foreign films in India:-
- Best opening weekend performance for a foreign film in India, surpassing SPIDER-MAN 2's Rs. 7.8 crores at the box-office. A whopping 92% more!
- Largest opening day for any foreign film in India [Friday, Nov. 17] -- Rs. 4.74 crores.
- Highest single-day collection ever for a foreign film in India -- Rs. 5.2 crores on Sunday.
- Biggest / Widest ever release for any foreign film in India -- 427 prints and 452 screens, shattering the previous record holder, SPIDER-MAN 2's 327 screens and 304 prints.
- Fastest foreign film in India to cross Rs. 10 crore mark in just 3 days.
The Hollywood studios have realized that India is a strong market and dubbing a keenly-looked-forward-to film in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu versions makes wise business sense. In any case, the investment of the Hollywood studios is limited to the dubbing and promotion expenses and if the domestic buyers lap it up [the Indian distributors acquired CASINO ROYALE for fantastic prices], the studios end up making a cool profit at the end of the day.
In this case, James Bond ne naam bhi kamaya aur daam bhi. What else do you want?
THE 'SUN' SHINES AGAIN!
Rajshri and Yash Raj are two production/distribution houses that command tremendous respect in the industry thanks to their path-breaking strategies. With VIVAH, Rajshri has bounced back with renewed vigor. But did they ever falter post MAINE PYAR KIYA? HUM AAPKE HAIN KOUN continues to be one of the biggest money spinners of Hindi cinema. HUM SAATH-SAATH HAIN was a big hit too. MAIN PREM KI DIWANI HOON was written off, but do people know that Rajshri made a neat profit on this one too? Goes to prove yet again that what eventually matters are not hollow praises/star ratings in reviews, but the box-office collections. And Rajshri's balance sheet continues to be rosy, very rosy!
Yes, HUM PYAR TUMHI SE KAR BAITHE and UUF KYA JAADOO MOHABBAT HAI…!, both directed by 'outsiders', didn't work. So what? VIVAH, a low cost enterprise, should rake in whopping profits for the premier production house. The second week figures are as strong [at some places, better] than the first week. The film continues to be in great shape everywhere.
Suraj re, jalte rehna!
THIS WEEK IN 2005
[Weekend: November 18-20, 2005]
Friday, November 18 witnessed the clash of the Khan brothers. The aggressively-publicized Feroz-Fardeen Khan starrer EK KHILADI EK HASEENA and Akbar Khan's lavish historical TAJ MAHAL opened on the same date worldwide, but it was a third film altogether -- HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE -- which opened to a far better response than the two Hindi films, eclipsing the business of the two Hindi films in many circuits. In fact, the collections of the dubbed Hindi version were also far better than those of all Hindi releases, new and old, at several stations.
Surprised, aren't you? So was the film industry when they realized that HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE [rated as the best movie in the franchise thus far] had embarked on a 90% + start at many screens, while EK KHILADI EK HASEENA was off to a 25%-30% start and TAJ MAHAL was around 10%-15%.
THIS WEEK IN 2004
[Weekend: November 19-21, 2004]
With the industry witnessing no major release, the beneficiaries of an open week were VEER-ZAARA, AITRAAZ and MUGHAL-E-AZAM. Despite mixed reports, VEER-ZAARA continued to hold sway in the second week. The matinee shows were affected at some places, but the business, at most places, was in the range of 85% +, which is exceptional considering the number of prints in circulation and the exorbitant ticket rates.
MUGHAL-E-AZAM had emerged a success story as well, with the evergreen epic going from strength to strength. The number of prints in the second week had been increased, which also indicated the confidence its distributors had in this classic.
AITRAAZ continued its moderate march with 70% collections at multiplexes and according to at least two multiplexes, the weekend in the third week was expected to be strong as well. Moviegoers in metros, especially the youth, were patronizing the film.