MUMBAI — The strong box office legs displayed by the Indian Imax releases of “Gravity” and “Dhoom 3” — the first Bollywood film to be released using the large screen technology — has spurred the Canadian corporation’s Indian expansion plans in the country.
India currently has 8 Imax screens, a capacity that is expected to double within a year.
Some 18% of the $6 million “Gravity” grossed in India came from Imax screens. With 37 Imax screens across 13 territories, including 5 in North America and 13 in the U.K. Yash Raj Films’ “Dhoom 3” is the largest non-Hollywood Imax bow. A significant percentage of its worldwide $60 million plus gross is from Imax screens, with many reporting full houses.
“We think the potential is very strong, as we’ve seen from the box office that’s been generated on ‘Gravity’ which far exceeded our expectations and shows there is a big market opportunity for us in India,” Greg Foster, Chief exec of Imax Entertainment and Senior Executive Vice President, IMAX Corp, told Variety.
Helmer Shekhar Kapur’s “Paani” will be the next release under the three pic deal Yash Raj has with Imax. For Yash Raj, the Imax release of “Dhoom 3” was an experiment that succeeded. “Imax is a great way to experience the movies we make and is particularly suited for the ‘Dhoom’ franchise as this is a big screen experience,” Rohan Malhotra, Yash Raj’s General Manager for Indian domestic distribution, told Variety. ”No doubt after ‘Dhoom 3′ and ‘Paani,’ you will see many more Indian films in Imax but it was important to test this with a film like ‘Dhoom 3.’”
“There are several other A-list Bollywood filmmakers with whom we are in discussions. With that said, it’s a mistake to focus purely on how the pictures perform in India. As we’ve seen from ‘Dhoom 3,’ one of our focuses is globalization,” Foster said.
For “Dhoom 3,” punters in India paid up to $14.50 for the privilege of watching it in the Imax format, nearly treble the average price of $5.65 in a regular multiplex. Foster sees the relatively high ticket prices as an opportunity rather than as a problem.
“For the burgeoning middle class, Imax is an affordable luxury, and – based on the results of Gravity and other titles and the results of ‘Dhoom 3′ we are bullish on our long term prospects in India,” Foster said.