Akshay Kumar's Padman secures 14 December release in China; Thugs of Hindostan pushed to early 2019
Akshay Kumar's Padman becomes the ninth Indian film to land in China this year; YRF's Thugs of Hindostan is yet to find a distributor in the country
Akshay Kumar's social drama PadMan, which was initially slated to hit screens in China even before Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, has finally secured a release date in the country. The R Balki-directed film is confirmed to release on 14 December, a week before the blackout period — for the protection of domestic films — begins from 21 December. PadMan will release alongside director Aneesh Chaganty's word-of-mouth sensation, Searching.
As hit comedy-drama 102 Not Out releases in China on 30 November, followed by PadMan, the release of Thugs of Hindostan is most likely going to happen in early 2019, before the Chinese New Year, which falls on 5 February. Now, the Chinese film bureau, which has never scheduled two Indian imports in a two-week gap, has sprung a surprise by announcing the release date of PadMan which will be the ninth Indian film to land in the country this year.
Seven Indian films have released in China this year and there's never been a time when two Indian movies have run in theatres at the same time.
While Secret Superstar released on 19 January, Bajrangi Bhaijaan was slotted for the lantern festival weekend on 2 March. Hindi Medium landed in China on 4 April for the Qingming festival weekend, followed by Baahubali: The Conclusion on 4 May and Toilet: Ek Prem Katha on 8 June. Salman Khan's sophomore mainland release Sultan hit cinemas on 31 August, and Rani Mukerji's Hichki saw the light of day in the country on 12 October.
While only eight Indian films have released in China from 2010-2017, 2018 has already witnessed seven movies in a single calendar year, which evidently substantiates the demand for content-driven Indian imports in the world's second-largest movie market.
The release status of Thugs of Hindostan
A bankable source says, "Local distributors in China were very keen to showcase Thugs of Hindostan as early as possible this year. The poor reviews and the dismal box-office performance of the film is one of the main reasons for the film to be pushed to 2019 now. The gap between the release date of Dangal in India and China was more than four months. However, after the humongous success of Dangal, Secret Superstar took just three months to land in China after its Indian release. In fact, the makers of ToH were strongly negotiating a day-and-date release for the film in China, but only in vain."
However, Gavin Feng, Chinese box-office tracker and industry analyst, says the release date of PadMan has nothing to do with Thugs. "Aamir Khan is still the biggest superstar in China. Indian movies didn't create a huge impact in China before Dangal. At that period, PK was the highest-grossing Indian film which had made $19.07 million (118.18 million yuan). It was the only Indian film that made big money for the Chinese distributor. Before PK, no other Indian title, including the first Baahubali movie and three Shah Rukh Khan films, could make more than $2 million at Chinese box office. These Indian movies without Aamir Khan couldn’t even hit the breakeven point for local distributors although the price of local distribution rights was meager at that point."
She further added: "Although it was believed before opening that Dangal could easily beat PK, the whole industry didn’t anticipate that it could pull in $200 million(￥1299.32 million). Dangal even beat many big Hollywood titles like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, Pirates of the Caribbeans 5, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and War for the Planet of the Apes last year, and it also became the highest-grossing non-English film in China (the record was previous held by Japanese title Your Name, which grossed $83.79 million)."
Gavin says the success of Dangal boosted the bargaining power of Indian producers and investors in China. "While Chinese distributors suggested the buy-out rule of Indian films on a flat-fee basis as a win-win situation for both the countries, Indian producers are optimistic of attaining a combined deal of both buy-out and revenue-sharing for their films."
As of now, E-Star Films is looking for a local distributor to sell Thugs of Hindostan in China. "The asking price for Thugs at $15 million is too high. And, that's also one of the reasons for the film being pushed to 2019. However, everyone is hoping that it will release in January. E-Star Films is likely to strike an amicable agreement with a local stakeholder soon to release the film."
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