Sony Pictures India crosses Rs 1 billion mark for third time in four years

MUMBAI: The Indian operations of Sony Pictures Entertainment are going from strength to strength. Following a disappointing 2005, the studio has rebounded and has announced that it has crossed the Rs 1 billion mark in ticket sales for the third time in four years.

This milestone was previously crossed in 2002 and 2004 and is a record for Hollywood in India. For 2006, Sony broke its own record. It made Rs 1,056,856,024 compared to Rs 1,019,240,000 in 2002 and Rs 1,001,693,000 in 2004.

The record was helped by the latest Bond film Casino Royale, probably the best Bond film since Sean Connery. As had been reported earlier by, the film opened across 427 prints and 452 screens, largest print and screen count. In the opening weekend it made Rs 149 million almost twice that of Spider-Man 2, which had made Rs 78 million in 2004.

This year Sony also had four films in the top 10 list for opening weekend for Hollywood films. Besides the Bond film, Pirates of the Caribbean 3 made Rs 31 million. Thanks to the controversy surrounding its release The Da Vinci Code made Rs 30 million and The Chronicles of Narnia made Rs 24 million.

Sony also became the first Hollywood studio to foray into local production with Saawariya. The film, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, will be released next Diwali.

Casino Royale was the first Hollywood film to cross the Rs 100 million mark. It did that in two days. Sony anticipates it to be the second largest grosser of all times for any foreign language film in India. It made Rs 330 million as of 29 November 2006.

Sony Pictures releasing of India MD Uday Singh says, "We are extremely proud to be the only studio to ever reach this box office pinnacle and that too thrice in a short span of four years. This inspired performance has been due to a fabulous line-up put together by Sony Pictures Entertainment, Buena Vista International and our partners in India and of course the stupendous efforts put in by our talented and dedicated marketing and distribution teams across India. This is truly a historic and a memorable moment for all of us.

"The future looks exciting with highly anticipated tent pole products like Ghost Rider, Pursuit of Happiness, Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, Surf Up, Resident Evil 3 and National Treasure 2. 2007 is also a special year as it marks the launch of our first Hindi title, Sanjay Leela Bhansalis Saawariya on 9 November, 2007."

In a year, approximately 70-72 films are released by the Hollywood Studios in India. Releases from other sources (the Independent Importers) is not known. More and more titles are being released day and date with the US - to kill piracy at one end and to cash in on the global marketing campaign at one shot at the other end.

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