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Hollywood to hijack month of July

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It’s a box-office battle in a new dimension. seems to have taken a cautious stand, with all set to hijack Indian screens in July, with Spiderman, Batman and Ice Age.

This year, there are only four Hindi movies releasing in July, compared to nine movies released last year, said industry officials. Typically, July is considered a lucrative month for Bollywood, as school and college re-open.

“Last year, July saw a record 40 per cent higher footfall than an average month,” said Sunil Punjabi, CEO Cinemax. In fact, last year, Bollywood earned 26 per cent of its overall revenues of 2011 with back to back blockbusters like Aamir Khan’s Delhi Belly, Ajay Devgn starrer Singham, Farhan Akthar’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and action-thriller Murder 2.

“This year looks like the year of Hollywood. With three large English franchises in 3D, it would have great offtake. Franchises typically do 30-40 per cent higher business than their previous release,” said Punjabi.

During this month, the blitzkrieg starts off with Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Amazing Spider-Man 3D, which releases on July 3. The starcast in the movie also include Irrfan Khan. Next in line, Fox Star Studios’s Ice Age 4: Continental Drift on July 13 and Warner Bros’s Dark Knight Rises on July 20. The movie directed by Christopher Nolan is the final instalment in the trilogy.

All these Hollywood movies are likely to be released in 400-500 screens in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu languages, backed by strong promotions and marketing plan.

For instance, will have its widest release with 700 screens. “Dark Knight is an established franchise, and the last movie of Christopher Nolan’s, Inception, did well for us here. We will be releasing it in four languages. There is a huge anticipation for the movie here,” said George John, director, marketing, Warner Bros Pictures India. The studio has already planned huge promotional activities and several brand tie-ups will be finalised in a month’s time.

Keeping this in mind, Indian production houses and distributors are not taking any risk. The list includes Golmaal remake Bol Bachchan starring Ajay Devgn and Abhishek Bachchan (July 3) UTV Motion Pictures’ Barfi with Ranbir Kapoor (July 13), Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone starrer Cocktail (July 13) and U, Me aur Mein with John Abhraham on July 27.

Given the rising importance of Hollywood movies here, producers have also started to take note of it by having simultaneous global releases here, and in some cases have a prior release before it screens in the US and European markets.

Even multiplexes are cashing in on the recent trend by upgrading and installing new technology.

Last month, tied up with Scrabble Entertainment to convert all its 162 screens to DCI (digital cinema initiative) standards endorsed by Hollywood studios for its movie releases. Currently, PVR has 89 screens which are digital.

“During the release of Avatar in 2009, there were around 50-55 screens which were DCI compliant. Now, with this there will be around 505 screens,” said Ranjit Thakur, CEO, Scrabble.

Though Hollywood movies’ total contribution to the Indian box office remains marginal, it is growing. According to Suniel Wadhwa, an independent film distributor, the contribution has grown to 13-14 per cent in the last one year from 10-11 per cent.

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