Hollywood rules the roost at the BO?

The trade analyst is quick to express his reservations as to whether Veere Di Wedding falls under the category of films running scared.

Veere Di Wedding and Manikarnika backing out of a clash with Deadpool 2 just goes to show how Hollywood blockbusters have managed to get a firm hold in India.

As the year of the clashes commences, it would seem that superheroes truly rule the world. Why else would the Deadpool sequel scare the makers of Veere Di Wedding and Manikarnika into pushing their release dates by a couple of weeks to avoid a clash? Gone are the days when a Bollywood film would only have to worry about another Hindi movie release taking over its audience. Now, one needs to consider biggies from the West as well — even if the Hindi films have big names in the cast and crew.

Just last year, xXx: Return of Xander Cage released opposite OK Jaanu, which was co-produced by Karan Johar and Mani Ratnam, and easily came out on top. Fast and Furious 7 also left Detective Byomkesh Bakshi in the dust, when the two had simultaneous releases.

Kangana at a launch event for Manikanika.Kangana at a launch event for Manikanika.

A major reason why films like these clash against each other now, as opposed to earlier, is the fact that they are also dubbed in multiple languages, says trade analyst Vinod Mirani. “Earlier, audiences for such films was limited to the English-speaking ones. So, they wouldn’t really pose a threat to Hindi films, which would still find a big audience outside the big metropolises. Now, however, you have these films being dubbed in Hindi and other regional languages as well. So, the audience for the films also increases substantially. Also, most of these Hollywood blockbusters releasing nowadays are action films and everyone loves a good, rousing dose of action,” he explains.

The trade analyst is quick to express his reservations as to whether Veere Di Wedding falls under the category of films running scared. “There may be some other reason as well. They have big stars in the film. You’d have to ask them if this is the only thing they are motivated by,” he said, doubtfully.

Film critic Raja Sen, however, draws parallels between the two films, as he explains why Veere Di Wedding does stand a lot to lose from Deadpool 2. “On the surface, it seems as though there is little in common between a movie like Deadpool, which centres around a crass and not-so-nice superhero, and a wedding comedy. However, if you look closely, both films would target an audience that enjoys irreverent comedy,” he elaborates. “At a time when the digital version of the film is available so quickly online, the audience will always choose the film which has an element of spectacle — at least when it comes to catching it on the silver screen.”

It is not just the language barriers coming down that has helped superhero films, but also the fact that they are from popular franchises. Says distributor Rajesh Thadani, “When a film like Justice League or Fast and Furious releases, they are immediately going to get a huge audience, because they are franchise films and have their own impressive fan followings worldwide. The promotions for these films are also really impressive, with everyone across the globe being made aware of the upcoming feature.”

Raja adds that each film tries to minimise its losses, and in a year riddled with clashes, it’s going to be a tough going for most. “There used to be a time when two big films could release together. But now, it’s really difficult for both of them to get an adequate number of screens to become successes. On top of that, it’s Oscar season and a number of good Western films are going to release at the same time in the theatres. Since each release is a gamble, one tries to be as careful as possible before finalising the dates,” he says.

At the end of the day though, it is the refrain of ‘content is king’ that Rajesh goes back to. “The films that released alongside Hollywood blockbusters last year weren’t really that strong, content-wise. Even a franchise film will only get people to the theatre only for the first weekend. After that, it’s all up to how strong the content of the film is. That’s what’ll see the film through,” he signs off.

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