India’s soaring current account deficit might be touching new heights but there are some imports that we just can’t live without. No, it’s not oil but Hollywood movies I am talking about. Hollywood has arrived big time in India. Indian demographic and its increased international exposure have turned Hollywood movies from a product for a niche audience to a fierce competitor to Hindi and regional movies. In fact the Hindi, Tamil and Telugu dubbed versions now account for more than a quarter of the revenue of popular Hollywood movies. Due to their ever increasing popularity, Karnataka has even gone to the extent of banning the screening of dubbed movies of any kind in the state purportedly to ‘protect’ its local film industry.
With such a huge pool of audience (and revenue) at stake, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood production houses decided that we needed patronizing. And what better way of doing that than by appealing to the Indian obsession with exclusivity – by giving their movies a pre-US release in India. Gone are the days when Indian viewers had to wait months before the Hollywood biggies hit the local theatres. This latest marketing fad of pre-US releases was started by Quantum of Solace in 2008 followed by movies like Narnia: Voyage of The Dawn Treader (2010), Mission Impossible IV (2011), Adventures of TinTin (2011), Underworld: Awakening (2012) and The Amazing Spiderman (2012) – to name a few, which premiered in India days and in some cases even a week before their American release. This trend is only going to continue this year with upcoming movies like Iron Man 3 – whose previous versions were huge hits in India, already slated for an international premiere on 26 April 2013, a week before its US release.
But Indians need not get all smug about this. Hollywood production houses are targeting Asia as a whole rather than just India. They are even factoring the regional festivals into the equation – A Good Day to Die Hard was released in East-Asian countries during the Chinese New Year to cash in on the holiday fever. With more than 60% of Hollywood’s revenue coming from international markets and an affluent and consumerist Asia, it is only natural that the domestic US market would lose the importance that it once held. The inevitable globalisation of Hollywood has finally entered top gear.