Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

Overseas Collections of Indian Films on the Rise

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Indian films are increasingly getting popular overseas, resulting in a surge in their box office collections in other countries. In the recent past, overseas collections of some movies have even been more than the earnings back home.

The Indian film industry grew 27 percent in 2017, on the back of box office growth in both domestic and international markets, according to a recent report released by EY and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).

In 2017, Indian films earned $367 million overseas, almost three times the $125 million made in 2016, the report said, according to CNBC. The trend is expected to continue this year as well, and figures may rise to $411 million in 2020, increasing by 12 percent from 2017, the report added.

The report also underlines the disparity between India and many other nations in terms of screen counts and tax rates for cinema exhibition. In 2017, India had only 9,530 screens while China and the United States had around 40,000 screens each.

For instance, the Aamir Khan-starrer Secret Superstar opened to a staggering 11,000 screens in China, compared to only 1,800 in India, earning over nine times more in the neighboring country, according to a report by Deloitte India and the Motion Picture Distributors Association (India).

Be it the Aamir Khan-starrer Dangal or SS Rajamouli’s Bahubali 2: The Conclusion, several Indian films received a huge positive response in foreign theaters, from viewers of Indian origin as well natives of those countries.

The superhit wrestling drama Dangal earned twice as much money in China as it did in India, making $11 billion and $5.4 billion, respectively, in the two countries, according to the EY and FICCI report. The movie became the top grossing Indian film overseas and the highest grossing non-Hollywood foreign movie in China.

Besides the number of movie screens, another deciding factor for the distribution and box office collection of a film is the tax rates for cinema exhibition in various countries. The tax rate in India is 28 percent as compared to 5 percent in China and the United Arab Emirates.

Indian movies may also find overseas success with the backing of celebrities and big production houses, which are factors that attract international viewers, Abhishek, a partner and consultant at Deloitte India, said, CNBC reported.

These factors are helping Indian films get screen slots at more mainstream theaters in countries like the United States.

“I am proud that Indian movies are being shown in various American theaters, unlike the old times where some Indian would buy an old Indian cinema house and we were stuck with that,” Vasu Pawar, who migrated to the United States in 1976, was quoted as saying by the publication. She spent about $150 on about a dozen Indian films last year. “I also see a lot of Americans in the audience who come to see Indian movies,” Pawar added.