Kochadaiiyaan vs X-Men: Hollywood takes over Kollywood market?
By Sreedhar Pillai
It is raining Hollywood hits in Tamil Nadu as big tentpole summer hits like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Godzilla take over the regional box-office. Remember these films in English and Tamil dubbed versions are getting wide release in as many as 200 screens in the state.
Tamil Nadu is emerging as the fastest growing market for Hollywood films, especially films in the action, adventure, horror and super hero genre. While their appeal is mainly in Chennai and big towns, the dubbed versions of these films in Tamil have been doing well in B and C markets. Hollywood studios, realising the potential of the TN market, have begun marketing their films here aggressively.
On how big is the market, Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios, India says: “When we dub films in Tamil, Tamil Nadu features in the top 5 markets for Hollywood films in India; it contributes to about 12-15% of the overall business.”
Traditionally Tamil Nadu has been a big market for English films, with films like Titanic and Avatar doing blockbuster business in the past. And in the last one year due to fall in Tamil film content and rise of social media in Tamil Nadu, Hollywood action and even animation has done good business. Recent super hits include The Conjuring, Iron Man 3, Avengers, Life of Pi, Ice Age 4, Gravity and a few others.
Rakesh Gowthaman of Vettri Theatres in Chrompet , a suburb of Chennai said: “ In the last few months the audiences seemed to be lapping up English content and we have increased number of shows in our screens for Hollywood films. We play the English and the dubbed Tamil version as there is an audience for both depending on the genre of the film.”
A theatre owner in Madurai said the quality of recent Tamil film releases is poor, which has made the audiences root for English films which have far superior production values. Another point being made is that there is rampant piracy as far as new Tamil films are concerned and can be seen on pirate Tamil sites operating outside the country.
Says a peeved theatre owner: “A Tamil film which was released along with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, was available on a pirate site free on the day of its release! So who will pay money to come and watch it on the big screen? Hollywood Studios have been waging a fierce battle against pirates mainly in south-East Asia and have been successful, but Kollywood’s battle against the pirates has not been that successful.”
Tamil Nadu which once upon a time had the maximum single screens in the country is now on a modernisation drive. Single screens have been converted into two or three screens, with the latest technology like 2K screening, Atmos/Aura sound system and 3D digital projections. All this has made movie going experience something to look forward to for the local audiences. Plus state–of-the-art multiplexes have also opened mainly in Chennai city and suburbs, which has also increased the popularity of English films.
Of course Hollwood biggies have become hot in TN as it is profitable to screen them, with huge grosses in the first week. The audiences are more for an English big film in its opening weekend than a normal Tamil film without stars. And, as far as exhibitor is concerned today entertainment tax for a Tamil and English film is the same.
Hollywood animation films have also made a big impact in Tamil Nadu market. Ice Age 4 and Rio 2 were dubbed into Tamil and have grossed over Rs 3 crore, where the market never existed. Earlier animation films were perceived to be only for kids, and dismissed as ‘cartoon films’ but today due to marketing and the craze for watching it in 3D have brought in the family audiences for such films. Vijay Singh explains : “ Animation films in India, especially Tamil Nadu, have been witnessing a sustained growth over the past few years, and one of the biggest reasons behind this is the aggressive marketing and distribution behind these films, led by our studio”.
In fact, one of the major worries of Rajinikanth’s Kochadaiiyaan team is how will Tamil Nadu audiences compare it with the latest from Hollywood. Meanwhile, the animation film How to Train Your Dragon 2 is releasing on 13 June and is going to witness the widest ever release for an animation film in India, across English, Hindi, Tamil & Telugu.
Vijay Singh concludes by saying: “Tamil Nadu has always been a good market for Hollywood films. Right from Titanic to Avatar, the contribution from this market has been pretty solid. In the past few years, more 2k and 3D digital installations is helping widen the release of tentpole titles. The Tamil version contributes almost as much as the English version, but dubbing in Tamil helps pushing the overall box office, thanks to wider marketing and distribution reach.”
Now all eyes are on X Men: Days of Future Past, releasing today in English and Tamil. Hugh Jackman is popular as an action hero and last year his action masala Wolverine did extraordinary business in TN. X-Men is clashing with Kochadaiiyaan, but has still managed to get around 120 screens, which illustrates the reach of Hollywood in TN.