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‘Baahubali 2’ eyes huge Telugu market in North America

LiveMint logoLiveMint 24-04-2017 Sakshi Gupta

New Delhi: Encouraged by the massive success of Baahubali: The Beginning in 2015 and the expansive market for Telugu cinema in the US, producer Arka Mediaworks is eyeing a big release for its upcoming war epic Baahubali 2: The Conclusion in the country. Director S.S. Rajamouli’s magnum opus will release in about 1,050 screens overseas out of which 900 cinemas are booked in the US, said independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai. The much-awaited sequel to the blockbuster will hit screens worldwide next week in nearly 10 languages, including Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Mandarin, Korean and English. In India, the film will be released across a record 6,500 screens, much higher than the maximum screen count for a big-ticket Bollywood film which remains at 4,500.

Baahubali 2 has already proved to be a gold mine for its makers through distribution rights for domestic and overseas markets. Telugu film distribution company Great India Films, which has bagged the distribution rights of the film for the US, is expecting the film to be twice as successful as the first part. It has extensive promotion plans, including television commercials, online advertising and social media marketing.

“Baahubali: The Beginning did over $8 million in the US and Baahubali: The Conclusion should do about $15 million,” said Soma Kancherla of Great India Films. The distribution company has bought the North America (USA and Canada) distribution rights for the Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam versions of the film for $7 million which does not leave them with substantial room for profit.

“We do not expect much higher returns because the price we’ve paid is high and have to hike ticket prices to support the same,” Kancherla said. “We do not encourage high ticket prices but we lost out on a few good movies (in the past) by offering less to producers and so had to go with the flow (with this film).”

Telugu cinema can boast of success stories in the US market for some time now, as reported by Mint. Earlier this year, Telugu romantic comedy Nenu Local opened to $160,716 (Rs1.08 crore) in the US, while family drama Sathamanam Bhavati, Chiranjeevi-starrer Khaidi No.150 and epic historical action film Gautamiputra Satakarni earned $653,664 (Rs4.45 crore), $2,361,969 (Rs16.08 crore) and $1,571,487 (Rs10.70 crore), respectively, within two weeks of release in the US, among many other Telugu films.

“Indian immigrants spread throughout the US make up a substantial film-going population for Telugu movies,” said film trade and business expert Girish Johar, adding that the most decent-sized Telugu offerings find adequate screens in the country. “However, Baahubali has found nearly double the screens than a regular Telugu film and should therefore garner unprecedented response too,” said Johar.

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