Three recent releases – Ice Age 3 and Hindi films New York and Kambakkht Ishq – have all had record-breaking openings in India indicating a revival at the local box office.
Indeed, the onset of India’s monsoon season has coincided with a flood of box office earnings, following the two month drought during the producers’ strike.
Yash Raj Films’ New York, which opened on June 26, grossed $11.3m (Rs550m) worldwide in its first week to become the biggest hit of 2009 so far. Directed by Kabir Khan, produced by Aditya Chopra and starring John Abraham, Katrina Kaif, Neil Nitin Mukesh and Irrfan Khan, the film deals with events in a post-9/11 world.
Eros International’s Kambakkht Ishq, which was panned by critics but promoted as a Bollywood meets Hollywood battle of the sexes comedy, opened on July 3 and has grossed over $9.5m (Rs460m) worldwide in its opening weekend.
However it remains to be seen if the film can hold its position. The Indian cast of Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor rubs shoulders with Sylvester Stallone, Denise Richards and Brandon Routh in the romantic comedy produced by Sajid Nadiadwala and directed by Sabbir Khan.
Trade expert Taran Adarsh said: “Kambakkht Ishq is amongst the top five openers of all times in India.” The film saw one of the widest releases for a Bollywood film in recent times with 2,000 plus screens worldwide.
Meanwhile, the global success of Fox’s Ice Age 3: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs was reflected in India where it notched up a weekend collection of $453,297 (Rs22m) on just 60 prints. This is regarded as the highest opening for any animation film in India, beating the 2005 Hindi animation Hanuman.
“Ice Age 3 has managed to score one of the highest openings for an animated film in India even though it was released at the same time as the hugely hyped Kambakkht Ishq,” said Fox Star Studios CEO Vijay Singh. “The 3D effects in the film are a must-see and create a fabulous movie-watching experience. Indian audiences are becoming very discerning and are driven by the right content.”
Indian exhibitors are celebrating the audiences’ return to cinemas. “This weekend was the best in terms of business and audiences. The youth audience is loving Kambakkht Ishq,” said Cinemax senior vice president Devang Sampath.
Venkat Prasad, programming head at Prasadz Media Corp, Hyderabad, said: “Ice Age is a brand of its own and the demand for the movie is superb. It’s not only children who are fans of the franchise – people of all ages are queuing up to watch the movie.”