Movies

xXx India blitz cost Viacom 18 over Rs 10 crore

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MUMBAI: Have you wondered if a Hollywood movie could have its maiden release in India? It's rare and exceptional. What it takes to be that big? Is it a large-scale promotion or a marketing stunt? It's a not a stunt but the right marketing strategy that can make a film as big as a grand award ceremony.  

The recent release of XXX: Return of Xander Cage in India before its global release has said it all.

Viacom 18 gave the audience a first-hand experience of the film acclaimed for its extreme action in a grand event which was organised in Mumbai. The visit of megastar Vin Diesel to India along with the co-star Deepika Padukone and the director DJ Caruso has made the premiere more ravishing.  

Five years ago, Viacom18 had undertaken a massive marketing campaign for 'Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol' for which Tom Cruise flew down to India.

The industry has now estimated the marketing spend on xXx premiere in India to be above Rs 10 crore. "Of course, it is under Rs 15 crore," an industry source quipped. A Paramount Pictures and Revolution Studios movie, xXx: Return of Xander Cage has been exclusively distributed in India by Viacom18 Motion Pictures.

So what made Hollywood to launch the movie in India before any than other country. Speaking to Indiantelevision.com, Viacom 18 Motion marketing head  Rudrarup Datta said, “For this film, India is a very important market for Paramount which is distributing the film globally. Having Deepika in the film made it more relevant for the India market. India was actually a T-1 market  in the film, hence we were pushing for the release earlier in India and, thankfully, Paramount gave a go-head." The film thus released in India before anywhere else, not even in the US.

"That's a big step and an indication of the growing importance of the India market,” Datta said.

The event was organised with a spectacular lineup of entertainment ranging from BMX stunt-bikers to skateboarders and B-Boying troupes. Nucleya further took the stage and kept the fans in a trance up until Diesel and Padukone made their entrance to greet the fans.

Datta further explained, “It's a mix of a global plan and India plan. So, if one plan is executed globally, a reflection of that will come to India, but, in this case especially, a special India plan was created because Padukone is a part of the film which, of course, gave us the advantage and opportunity to localise the film. And, that's was we did. We started October last year where we actually convinced Paramount to create a specific Padukone trailer for India."

"Normally," he said, "it was not done in any market." "We created a trailer for India, and we launched the trailer on Bigg Boss and also launched a Hindi trailer then," he added. "The whole idea on the campaign from day one was three pronged:

A. Scale - whatever we do, we need to do it big.

B. Penetration - we need to reach as deep as possible in India and new markets to respond to a Hollywood content and primarily Hollywood dubbed content. And,

C. Localisation - to make it connect to the Indian audience as much as possible.”

Viacom 18 has done multi tie-ups with brands like PVR where fans were greeted with a first-of-its-kind movie takeover of PVR cinemas with PVR ECX-Mumbai, PVR Priya- Delhi and PVR Phoenix-Bangalore, being transformed into ‘xXx – PVR’ starting 24 December  2016 and continuing till the release of the film in India on the 14 January 2017.

Presence in the form of branding across the cinemas to virtual reality experience, from xXx meal combos to xXx selfie spots and gaming zones, Xander Cage is sure going to rule PVR Cinemas and audience’s hearts.

“Right from large-scale outdoor branding, we embarked on innovative marketing -- we had mall branding, railway station branding, and actually it was a first time that for a Hollywood film, we have covered OOH extensively across India.”

The share of Hollywood films in India has seen a steady rise over the last couple of years, currently hitting 20 per cent plus figures. The share of theatrical business for Hollywood is growing at five per cent plus year-on-year. “In the last three years, the contribution of Hollywood to the overall business has gone up steeply,” Datta said.

xXx released in 841 locations on 1,092 screens. This includes 3D, IMAX 3D and 4DX. The 2D version released on 18 January, and the number of screens were 200, “We have the weekend figure which is Rs 30 crore, but one needs to understand that it had two days quarter kind of a weekend.”

In comparison, Disney’s The Jungle Book, in 2016, made Rs 40.47 crore in its opening weekend. Later, Marvel’s superhero movie Captain America : Civil War touched Rs 27 crore in its initial three days. But, none of these films could break the record set by Diesel’s Fast and Furious 7 which earned over Rs 70 crore in the first weekend. 

The next big release of 2017 will be Dwayne Johnson, Zac Effron and Priyanka Chopra starring Baywatch which is set to release in May. It will be interesting to watch that the Indian audience will get lucky again with its India release first in the world.

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