From “Avengers: Infinity War”, “Mission: Impossible Fallout”, “Deadpool 2”, “Black Panther”, “Venom” to “Aquaman” — 2018 was a big year for superhero films and big franchises in India.
“It has been a phenomenal year for Hollywood with mega hits like ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, ‘Deadpool 2’, ‘Black Panther’ — besides giving Bollywood movies released alongside a run for their money; it has resulted in increased market share for Hollywood,” Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios, told IANS.
According to Vivek Krishnani, MD, Sony Pictures Entertainment India, the business grew about 12-13 per cent over last year.
While Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Doctor Strange, Deadpool came back to take forward their adventures, there were some fresh superheroes like Black Panther, Venom and Aquaman who opened a new chapter.
The year started with the entry of African superhero Black Panther. The Marvel Studios’ film, featuring Chadwick Boseman as the superhero, registered an opening collection of over Rs 7 crore when it released in February.
But “Avengers: Infinity War” — which brought together 22 superheroes to fight supervillain Thanos — turned out to be the game changer. The film crossed Rs 292 crore (Gross Box Office collection) in India. It opened in the country in April.
Reflecting on the successful year, Bikram Duggal, Head – Studio Entertainment, Disney India, said: “Fans loved the high-octane superhero action drama in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’, making it the highest Hollywood grosser in the country and the same audience took to animation as a family entertainer when they embraced the story of a unique family in ‘Incredibles 2’.”
For film and trade business expert Girish Johar, the success of “Avengers: Infinity War” marks a “huge achievement for Hollywood films in India which were earlier only including two to five per cent of the total revenue pie”.
“The total revenue pie contribution from mere five to seven per cent, has become 15 per cent. That is a very strong holding,” he added.
At a time when Salman Khan’s “Race 3”, Aamir Khan’s “Thugs of Hindostan” and Shah Rukh Khan’s “Zero” fell flat at the box office, larger than life stories from Hollywood gave people a reason to come to the theatres.
“As compared to its Bollywood counterpart, the performance was better as far as movies which had big stars featured in it, whereas Bollywood did have a few failures even with big stars featuring in it,” said Dhruv S Sinha, who looks after overseas and Hollywood business for Reliance Entertainment.
It proved, once again, that content is the bigger star in showbiz.
“What has worked with the audience is the storytelling, the content, the visual effects – essentially wholesome entertainment that audience has been longing for,” Singh said.
Krishnani pointed out “whether it is English or local content, people are smart enough to understand what is good content and what is not”.
Added Sinha: “Learning has been very similar with both Hollywood and Hindi films that audience is accepting films which are content driven.”
Be it Tom Cruise’s return as a spy in Paramount Pictures’ “Mission: Impossible Fallout”, Chris Pratt’s jungle ride in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”, Tom Hardy’s “Venom”, fun packed family adventure with Disney.Pixar’s “Incredibles 2” or Jason Momoa’s aquatic affair with “Aquaman” — there was action, romance, drama, comedy and lots of entertainment in the stories that came to life on the big screen.
If we open the number chart for Hollywood films at the Indian box office this year, then, according to Warner Bros Pictures India, films which made the year remarkable for the banner were: “The Nun” (Rs. 62.50 crore), “Aquaman” (over Rs 34.16 crore) and “Rampage” (Rs 35.20 crore).
For Viacom18 Motion Pictures, “Mission: Impossible Fallout” — which minted Rs 109.1 crore — made the year worthwhile. Other notable releases from the studio included Matt Damon’s “Downsizing” and John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place”.
Ryan Reynolds’ “Deadpool 2” turned out to be profitable for Fox Star Studios as the film collected Rs. 77 crore in India.
In the department for the shrills and thrills, films like “The Nun” and “”Insidious: The Last Key” fared well in the report card. Films like “A Star is Born”, “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Ant-Man And The Wasp” also captured the audience’s attention.
Breaking down the business, Ashish Saksena, Chief Operating Officer-Cinemas, BookMyShow, said: “The year undoubtedly belonged to Disney with two mighty releases in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and ‘Black Panther’. Besides these two superhero films, ‘Deadpool 2’, ‘Ant-Man And The Wasp’ and year closing releases ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ conquered the box office.
“There were encouraging signs with some of the quieter releases ending up doing great business in India like ‘A Star Is Born’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, clearly showing that market for Hollywood has expanded beyond just big budget tentpole releases.”
Whether it was building campaigns in Hindi to dubbing in regional languages — ‘desi’ touch to the foreign content contributed to the growing business.
“Dubbing of Hollywood movies in regional languages is another factor that has contributed to their success and in reaching out to a bigger audience,” said Devang Sampat, Director, Strategic Alliances, Cinepolis India.
On new learnings, Krishnani said: “2018 has shown that high concept films if they have audience connect then they will bring audiences to the theatres. It has forced a lot of people to go back to the drawing board and re-look the content.”
Sinha feels “niche Hollywood content still has difficulties and its own challenges and acceptance at box-office”.
With films like “Avengers: Endgame”, “Men in Black International”, “Spider-Man: Far From Home”, “Angry Birds 2”, “Jumanji” sequel, “The Turning” and “X-MEN: Dark Phoenix” in the pipeline, there is no sign of superhero fatigue setting in anytime soon.