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My Name is Khan's new avatar to hit America big time

By Arthur J Pais
May 05, 2010 15:44 IST
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A scene from My Name is KhanKaran Johar's My Name Is Khan, already the highest grossing Bollywood film abroad with at least $16 million gross, is bracing for another record.

On Friday, it will become the first Bollywood film distributed by a Hollywood company to have a director's cut in release.

Fox Searchlight which distributed the film worldwide and saw its gross reach $39 million, took out advertisements last week in The New York Times for the 'international director's cut'. The ad also displayed a strong review for the film in Los Angeles Time.

The movie was ending its fabulous run in North America in the desi theatres grossing $4 million just as Housefull, a big hit in India, opened to lower than expected $650,000. last weekend. If the usual rate of attrition for Bollywood films in North America prevails -- 50 to 60 percent in the second week -- the Akshay Kumar, Lara Dutt and Deepika Padukone starrer may end its run with a solid but unspectacular $1.2 million.

This weekend, the performances of Housefull and that of the new My Name Is Khan will be keenly watched.

What exactly is an international director's cut?

"What they have done is to cut the film by about 30 minutes and keep the running time to about two hours," film makerĀ  Johar said.

"When we showed them the completed film several months ago, Fox executives said they liked the film a lot but would I mind if they can make a shorter film from it for the non-diasporic audience?"

Johar said, he told them he did not mind it at all. "After all, I want more people to see my films," he said chuckling.

Fox then got Alan Edward Bell, the well-known editor whose last big hit was the independently made (500) Days of Summer to work on the new version along with Johar's editor.

"What they have done is amazing," Johar said. "They have left the songs as they are, trimming a bit here and there. But the film has been streamlined for an international audience. In India, we indulge ourselves a bit because we know our audiences but the sensibilities of an international audience is surely different."

A scene from HousefullThe new avatar of MNIK will have a platform release. It will open in New York and Los Angeles, and if the grosses are encouraging, it will expand to other cities.

'Fox has given the film incredible support and exposure," Johar said. "They welcomed us as if we were part of their family. As someone from India, who like other Indians, values family connections, I felt very much at home working with Fox."

The international edition of Kites, which is presented by Brett Ratner, one of Hollywood's big time film-makers (Rush Hour films, X-Men: The Last Stand) will soon test the crossover market for Bollywood movies.

Housefull, the second consecutive hit for director Sajid Khan (Heyy Baby), grossed $14 million worldwide in its first weekend, the trade publication Variety wrote quoting distributor and co-producer Eros.

The film was expected to gross in the UK andĀ  North America more than its take.

About 66 percent of its $14 million gross came from India. In the UK where Akshay Kumar has a bigger market than in America, the $10 million costing film grossed about $410,000. Akshay's Singh Is Kinng and Khambakkht Ishq each opened with more than $700,000 in their first weekend in the UK. But his Blue opened to a slightly lesser number than his newest film.

But overall, its distributors and producer have reasons to smile.

'With its excellent weekend performance, the biggest of the year so far, Housefull has lived up to its name," Eros International Media senior VP distribution Nandu Ahuja told Variety.

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Arthur J Pais in New York