In less than a week since its release, Avengers: Infinity War has raked in about Rs 188 crore at the Indian box office. That makes it the second biggest release of 2018 behind Padmaavat (which made about Rs 300 crore). The film has also set the record for the highest opening weekend in India, beating Padmaavat by a sizeable margin: Infinity War collected Rs 94 crore while the Sanjay Leela Bhansali epic raked in Rs 75 crore in its opening weekend. The 19th film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is on track to be the highest grossing Hollywood film in India.
It’s no secret that in recent years Bollywood has been struggling to bring audiences to theatres. Tent-pole films like Fan, Tubelight, Jagga Jasoos and Mohenjo Daro were among the biggest disappointments of the last two years and big names like Amitabh Bachchan, Farhan Akhtar and Saif Ali Khan failed to deliver at the box office. The success of films like Padmaavat, Raid, Baaghi 2 and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety has brought some cheer to Bollywood this year but the industry is still struggling to compete against high-ticket prices, rampant piracy, a more discerning audience and the internet. But the biggest competition Bollywood faces is from the more powerful and resourceful Hollywood.
It was believed that Hollywood appealed to a very niche movie-going audience in India but that scenario changed significantly on 15 April 1994 when Steven Speilberg’s Jurassic Park roared into life in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. This was the first time the Indian audience experienced a mega budget, computer-generated Hollywood marvel in a local language. And that contributed to the film’s remarkable 25-week run at the box office. In the 24 years since, Hollywood has gone local with a vengeance. Tiger Shroff has voiced the Hindi version of Spiderman, Varun Dhawan was the voice of Captain America and The Jungle Book had Priyanka Chopra as Kaa, Irrfan as Baloo and Nana Patekar as Sher Khan. Baahubali star Rana Daggubati has lent his voice to Thanos in the Telugu version of Avengers: Infinity War.
An increase in multiplexes in smaller towns, greater exposure to the internet, OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, and films dubbed in local languages has helped Hollywood to increase its foothold in the Indian market. And, very often, movie-goers are picking Hollywood films over their Hindi counterparts. Last year, xXx: Return of Xander Cage and Ok Jaanu released on the same day and the audience picked the former. Ditto for when Fast and Furious 7 left Detective Byomkesh Bakshy! in the dust and X-Men: Apocalypse earned more than Sarbjit.