Avengers: Endgame creates unprecedented pre-release trade buzz for a Hollywood film in India
While Avengers: Infinity War fell shy of touching the Rs 300 crore mark in India by a whisker, the sequel Endgame is likely to cross Rs 500 crore.
As cinephiles across the length and breadth of the globe have been waiting with bated breath for the grand finale, Avengers: Endgame, the 22nd film of the world's highest-grossing movie franchise, we speak to trade experts and exhibitors, who are gearing up for the most anticipated MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) project till date, to decode the buzz and anticipation for the movie in India.
Disney/Marvel's globe-trotting box office juggernaut Avengers: Infinity War, which was billed as the most ambitious crossover event in the history of cinema, smashed all the previous records set by Hollywood films in India, when it released on 27 April, 2018. The film amassed a remarkable lifetime total of Rs 298.3 crore — unadjusted for inflation — in India and missed the Rs 300 crore mark by a whisker. India was the ninth top grossing overseas market for Infinity War with a nifty total of $43.5 million from more than 50 days of theatrical run.
Senior trade analyst Taran Adarsh is confident that Endgame will outstrip the box office numbers of Infinity War in India and emerge as the top earning Hollywood release in the country. "The hype is tremendous. Not just India, but across the entire world. It's an event film. India is going to be a very crucial market for the movie. The doors have opened up for Hollywood films in India, and this time, the buzz is unparalleled. Today, Hollywood movies are not just limited to metros and cities. It has catered to all sections of audiences. We have dubbed versions in all major languages," Adarsh told Firstpost.
The Russo brothers-directed Hollywood tentpole releases on 24 April in China, Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Singapore and Taiwan, before it lands in the UK and a few more countries on 25 April, and finally reaches Indian and American shores on 26 April.
Box office tracker LM Kaushik, who religiously analyses Chennai city numbers and Tamil Nadu trade, says the anticipation is huge and on par with big Tamil movies. "A lot of theaters have scheduled early morning 4 AM/5 AM shows for the film in Chennai, and the advance bookings are outstanding. In Tamil Nadu, Avengers (all versions) grossed close to Rs 32 crore last year and emerged as the ninth top grossing film of 2018. In fact, the Chennai city gross of the film was a massive Rs 7.25 crore. It was the fifth highest earning film of 2018 in Chennai city and pulled in more than some highly popular Tamil movies," said Kaushik.
While three Tamil films, including 100, K 13 and Deverattam are slated for 1 May release in Tamil Nadu, no new movies are scheduled for 26 April, which gives Endgame a free-flowing run at the Tamil Nadu box office with a solo release. Similarly, no new releases are planned in Andhra Pradesh/Nizam too, where Endgame will enjoy another solo release.
K Deepak, who runs the box office measurement portal AndhraBoxOffice.com, says there is tremendous hype for the film down South. "As of now, they are planning for nearly 500 screens in AP/Nizam. But, it may touch 600 closer to release. Avengers: Endgame is most likely to become the highest grossing Hollywood film in the region. It will surely dominate the opening weekend and give fierce competition to homegrown Telugu releases. While Nizam will showcase English versions majorly, the Telugu dubbed versions will be more in Andhra Pradesh," said Deepak.
If you think theatrical programming is going to be difficult for exhibitors next week to accommodate good local films, Udeep, Managing Director of Mayajaal Cinemas, Asia's second largest multiplex which houses 16 screens, has a solution: He is going to play all the four major versions of Endgame in the multiplex in all 16 screens. "I don't think anyone else has tried this yet. We are going to showcase in all 16 screens with almost 100 shows. That shows the hype for the film. For the first time, an English movie is likely to make a dent in Tamil cinema's box office. And Vijay Sethupathi dubbing for the Tamil version has created a lot of hype too. Although there was an initial backlash on social media for his dubbing, it's settled down," Udeep observed.
The initial estimates for the lifetime gross of the film in India are more than Rs 400 crore. Do not be surprised if Endgame sprints past the Rs 500 cr mark at the end of its theatrical run. The bad reviews for Kalank have already started creating an impact at the box office, and with no new releases on 26 April, Endgame is set to take over the screens.
Adarsh noted Disney is going all out with an extensive release plan. "At the moment, the screen count is not finalised. The recall value for the film is huge, and kids are waiting to watch it too. It's going to register earth-shattering opening numbers worldwide, and in India, it will be an eye-opener. The opening day figure could compete with the biggest of the Hindi films in India, and it has all the potential to be the number one opener of 2019. With the dwindling collections of Kalank, Endgame is set to get its fair share of screens up North," added Adarsh.
While Kaushik feels that attaining the Rs 50 crore lifetime Tamil Nadu gross is quite ambitious and challenging, he says it is definitely achievable given the hype and hoopla surrounding the film. "However, the Chennai city gross is very likely to touch the Rs 10 crore mark, and it will be the first time for a Hollywood release. Although Kanchana 3 is currently doing well at the ticket window, it will be moved to second or third biggest screens in several multi-screen theaters, and preference will be given to Endgame, which is going to dominate the big screens across the state for two to three weeks," he stated.
Tamil Nadu was the third top-grossing territory in India for Infinity War after the Mumbai and Delhi-UP regions. So, Disney has upped the ante this time by roping in big names like AR Rahman, AR Murugadoss, Vijay Sethupathi, Andrea Jeremiah and Rana Daggubati for the Tamil and Telugu dubbed versions to compose a track, write dialogues and dub for significant lead characters.
"In Tamil Nadu, the collections will be massive in the three Cs — Chennai, Chengalpet and Coimbatore — and will rival the numbers of top Tamil films starring A-list heroes. There is a negative buzz surrounding Vijay Sethupathi's dubbing for Iron Man on social media platforms. But, it also adds more buzz to the film, and Vijay Sethupathi's name will definitely pull in some more audiences to the franchise's grand finale," said Kaushik.
Udeep is positive that the first-day collection of all versions of the film in Tamil Nadu will be on par with Rajinikanth, Ajith and Vijay movies. "The movie is going to release in more than 500 screens in the state. The quality of the Tamil dubbed version of English films today has gone up, and today, studios have taken it very seriously to localise the content and attract a high volume of screens. I'm sure national multiplexes too would start showcasing dubbed versions of English films in another six months down the line," he said.
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