Be it Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Thor or Hulk, stories about superheroes battling supervillains in a fantasy world turned out to be the hit formula for Hollywood at the Indian box office this year.
Even as Indian actresses Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone didn’t quite live up to box office expectations around their Hollywood debuts — Baywatch and xXx: Return of Xander Cage, respectively — movies like Wonder Woman, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok captured the audience’s imagination and set the cash registers ringing.
Hollywood’s 2017 report card, as industry expert Rajesh Thadani says, “was decent but not over-the-top”.
“I am sure it could have done better. Bollywood wasn’t great this year except for ‘Baahubali 2 – The Conclusion’. Overall, Hollywood helped a bit (at the Indian box office), but not as per expectations,” Thadani said.
“Priyanka’s and Deepika’s films didn’t do that great… Not as expected,” he added.
Girish Johar, film and trade business analyst, echoed the sentiment.
Be it Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s avatar as Wonder Woman, or Hugh Jackman’s final turn as Wolverine in Logan or beloved superheroes Thor and Hulk getting together to battle against a supervillain in Thor: Ragnarok or superheroes from a different universe in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 — 2017 was the year of superheroes at the box office in India.
The second part of the 2014 film Guardians of the Galaxy — which brought back Chris Pratt as Star-Lord; Zoe Saldana as Gamora; Dave Bautista as Drax; Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot; and Bradley Cooper voicing Rocket Raccoon — opened in India on May 5. It grossed Rs 22.57 crore, as per trade sources.
Marvel Studios’ Thor: Ragnarok opened in India on November 3 in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, and grossed Rs 76.60 crore.
According to data compiled by online ticketing platform BookMyShow, Thor: Ragnarok was the top-grossing film of the year in English.
“The Marvel Cinematic Universe has sparked the imagination of a whole new generation of fans in India. 2017 has been an exceptional year with ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and one of the biggest Hollywood releases in India with ‘Thor: Ragnarok’,” said Bikram Duggal, Executive Director and Head, Studios, Disney India.
Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures, said 2017 was a “year of hits and misses”.
“We had some complete surprises. There were some really big successes and some disappointments if we talk about Hollywood. But overall we at PVR are happier than dissatisfied,” Gianchandani said.
“Films which had potentials to become blockbusters didn’t do that well and a lot of people raised concerns with these franchises. But we had ‘Fast & Furious 8’, ‘Wonder Woman’ — which is not a franchise yet — but again a DC character which turned out much bigger than expected.
“Overall, if we remove some from the equation, the remaining year had been fairly aggressive as far as box office numbers are concerned,” Gianchandani added.
If we open the number chart for Hollywood films at the Indian box office this year, then, according to Warner Bros Pictures India, Wonder Woman — which was appreciated the world over for introducing a successful franchise revolving around a female superhero with the vision of a woman director — amassed over Rs 32 crore.
Other films which made the year remarkable for the banner were: Dunkirk (Rs 35.9 crore), Kong (Rs 40.6 crore), Geostorm (Rs 68.1 crore) and Justice League (Rs 51.6 crore).
Deepika’s xXx: Return of Xander Cage — an $85 million Paramount/Viacom Inc release, for the promotion of which Hollywood actor Vin Diesel came down to India too — turned out to be the best box office bet for the banner, with collection figures standing at Rs 50 crore-plus. Still, trade gurus say, it didn’t match expectations.
For Viacom18 Motion Pictures, Transformers: The Last Knight — which released in India on June 30 — was also a winner by minting over Rs 30 crore, followed by Priyanka’s maiden Hollywood project Baywatch standing at over Rs 14 crore.
Tom Holland’s first solo movie as the web slinger with Spider-Man: Homecoming, a story woven with hints of diversity and a ‘desi’ twist with Hollywood’s ‘Iron Man’ Robert Downey Jr in a kurta pyjama at a traditional Indian wedding, was the highest grossing film from the Sony Pictures Entertainment stable.
Films like Logan, with collections at Rs 50.42 crore, Boss Baby (Rs 20.60 crore), War for the Planet of the Apes (Rs 25.89 crore), Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Rs 20.88 crore) and Murder on the Orient Express (Rs 11.55 crore) made 2017 worthwhile at the box office for Fox Star Studios.
In the department for the shrills and thrills, films like Annabelle: Creation and IT fared well in the report card.
“‘Thor’, ‘Wonder Woman’ and other horror franchises did well in India. So, overall, there was an increment in box office business. It was a good time for Hollywood films,” Johar said.
What about the road ahead?
Duggal said 2018 “will be another spectacular year at the cinemas as we bring a diverse slate of movies, from superheroes to fantasies to action adventures”.