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Hollywood banks on 'dubbed for India'

By Aminah Sheikh in Mumbai
May 16, 2007 01:57 IST

Hollywood is cashing in on the tremendous success of Spiderman 3, released in Hindi, Bhojpuri and Tamil, among other languages, raking in a record Rs 27 crore in the first week.

Distributors of Hollywood films are lining up English blockbusters, dubbed in Indian languages, in the next few months. And they are challenging the domination of Bollywood's top producers for control over box office collections.

Over a dozen-odd top Hollywood films, including Ocean's 13, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Die Hard, Shrek 2, Harry Potter 5 and Rush Hour 3, will be in cinema theatres soon in Indian languages.

Spiderman 3 did three things. First, it released a record number of prints (588 prints compared with an average of 500 for Hindi films and 800-1,000 prints of blockbusters) for a Hollywood film.

Secondly, a majority of them were dubbed in regional languages (45 per cent of the prints were in Hindi). Thirdly, it roped in Indian partners with distribution reach (like Percept Pictures). 

That's the route everyone is taking. Sony Pictures' next blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean 3 is set to take on not only the Amitabh-Abhishek Bachchan-starrer Jhoom Barabar Jhoom but also Rajnikant's Tamil movie Shivaji. Pirates will be released with 400 prints, of which only 80 will be in English. Pirates of the Caribbean 2 was released with only 198 prints a year ago.

"There certainly is a big market in smaller cities," said Uday Singh, managing director, Sony Pictures.

Paramount Films is releasing 200 prints of the action movie Transformers. Seventy per cent will be dubbed in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

"The number of prints for an English movie has increased due to the advent of multiplexes and dubbed versions. The dubbed version prints have increased by 25 per cent this year," said Sarabjit Singh, general manager (India operations), Paramount Films.

The company is also open to selling the distribution rights of the movie to an Indian media house if it offers more money.

Warner Brothers has a host of Hollywood movies, including Harry Potter 5 (to be released in July), Die Hard (in June) and Fantastic Four (in June), slated for release this year. Sources said over 70 per cent of Harry Potter's 300-plus prints would be released in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Industry estimates that the share of Hollywood movies (including the dubbed version) of total box office collections (Rs 9,680 crore) will virtually double to 8 per cent this year, provided these movies click.

Movie experts say Spiderman 3 is making Bollywood sit up and take notice. "Spiderman 3 has made a dent in the Bollywood kitty this year and this situation will continue with successful Hollywood sequels releasing throughout the year," said film analyst Taran Adarsh.

Preet Bedi, CEO of Percept Pictures, said: "Hollywood films' brand share is sure to go up at the expense of Bollywood."

Ravi Chopra, producer of BR Films said: "With dubbed versions and a new market Hollywood will co-exist with Bollywood and the overall pie will grow." If the industry is to be believed, UTV and Yash Chopra's Yash Raj Films are also planning to bid for the distribution rights of big Hollywood blockbusters.

Aminah Sheikh in Mumbai
Source: source