Aamir Khan’s inquisitive alien character PK is all set to cross the border and entertain audiences in China. The record breaking movie has scaled yet another high with the widest-ever release for a Bollywood film in the neighbouring country at 3,500 screens.
Directed by Rajkumar Hirani and co-produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Hirani in association with Disney’s UTV Motion Pictures, PK is a satire on the practices of self-proclaimed religious heads. The producers have tied up with The China Film Group and Huaxia Film Group for its release in China. This is the first time the two Chinese firms have acquired a film from India directly for its release in The People's Republic of China.
Until now the widest release enjoyed by a Bollywood film in China was Dhoom 3. The Aamir Khan-Abhishek Bachchan cop-robber action drama was released in 2,000 screens in China in July 2014. The film earned $4 million (approx. Rs 24 crore) in China.
More recently, Shah Rukh Khan starrer Happy New Year was set to release in China with an aim to have at least 2,500 screens. However the film is yet to release there.
The Chinese box office was projected to be worth $4.9 billion in 2014. According to the Chinese Film Producers' Association, box-office collections have been growing at a 37 per cent annual rate in that market last year. By contrast, the Indian film industry is projected to be worth $2.2 billion in 2014, according to the Ficci-KPMG Report on media & entertainment in 2013-14.
The Chinese government, which regulates the film industry there, has predicted that the country's box-office collections will exceed those of the US (estimated at $10 billion in 2014) in three years. And the target appears set to be achieved, with annual screen and revenue growth rates stable at around 30%.
Indian films have been trickling into the Chinese theatres of late. In the 1950s, Indian content went past the Great Wall with films like Awaara. But in the years to follow, there was long dry spell that broke only in the early 2000s when Aamir Khan's Lagaan was released in China. After that, a few other Bollywood films like 3 Idiots, My Name is Khan, Chennai Express, Krrish 3 and Dhoom 3 hit Chinese screens. This is mainly due to China’s cap on international films releasing in the country. No more than 34 foreign movies are given permission to release in the country, 90% of which are Hollywood films.
Indian film-makers have been looking at China aggressively and customising the product that they export to China. Following suit, PK will be dubbed in Mandarin. The film will be released by the end of the current quarter.
The announcement was made at a ceremony held in Beijing on Jan 27th, in the presence of the Honourable Ambassador of India to The People's Republic Of China - Ashok Kantha and Honourable Tong Gang, Vice Minister, State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of the People’s Republic of China (SAPPRFT), the heads of China Film Group and Huaxia film group; director Rajkumar Hirani, producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra, UTV Motion Pictures and other dignitaries.
"This direct collaboration with China Film Group and Huaxia Film Group for PK is a proud moment not just for us at the studio but also for the Indian movie industry as a whole. We were honoured to have senior diplomats and government officials from both countries for the signing. It is exciting that just after 6 weeks of the theatrical release of PK, the film has resonated and is finding an audience in many new markets." said Amrita Pandey, VP and Head, Marketing and Distribution, Studios, Disney India
"I am delighted to know that PK is going to have a major theatrical release in over 3,500 screens in China. I am confident that the film's blend of entertainment, emotion and underlying social message will resonate with audiences in China and elsewhere in the world. I am also pleased that PK will build on the success of 3 Idiots and expand the China market for Indian films in the future," said producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra
"The deal to release PK in China got signed and it's sheer joy to know that the Chinese distributors are excited about the film and will release PK in over 3500 screens, which is as big a release as in India," said director Rajkumar Hirani.