How Indian films like Baahubali and Dangal are breaking BO records across the world
May 17, 2017 | 8:03 PM
by Hindustan Times
Baahubali: The Conclusion become the highest-grossing Indian film in the US.

India: Like the hero at its centre, Baahubali: The Conclusion overcame several obstacles - limited theatre count, competition, historical trends - to become the highest-grossing Indian film in the US. But how? With gross collections exceeding $19 million in the US, and expected to finish with around $5 million more, the second film in SS Rajamouli's epic fantasy series has altered the landscape for Indian films abroad.

According to a new report in the Hollywood Reporter, Baahubali accomplished this feat thanks to two major reasons: Between 2005 and 2015, the Indian-American population has increased by 60%. "The social media power of the Indian diaspora is incredibly strong," says Imax Entertainment CEO Greg Foster, whose chain played Baahubali on 40 screens in North America. "Did you see one traditional commercial for this movie? No. [But] everyone who needed to know about it did."

"With Indian cinema, we've been seeing the core audience grow for the past four years," says Nikkole Denson-Randolph, VP, alternative and special content at AMC Theatres. Indian hits in the US have included 2014's P.K., which earned $10.6 million; 2013's Dhoom 3, which earned $8 million; and the wrestling drama Dangal, the previous record-holder, which made about $12.4 million in 2016, says the report.

The film's distributor in the States, Great Indian Films, used a unique approach to market the movie. When Hollywood studios spend hundreds of millions to promote their tentpole pictures, GIF used social media. Ads were peppered on websites and at sports events, targeting a specific crowd and relying on word of mouth.

Baahubali 2's worldwide box office collections stand at approximately Rs14,000m. Aamir Khan's wresting drama Dangal became the highest-grossing Indian film in China, the world's second-largest movie market, with collections of more than Rs4,000m in just two weeks. This was the result of a well-planned publicity tour in which Aamir toured the country, where he is already a popular face.

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