‘India is a hard market for Hollywood’

Singapore, Oct 16 (IANS) India has a large movie-going audience who tend to watch Bollywood and other local films rather than Hollywood movies, believes Jim Morris, president of Pixar Animation Studios, saying American films have not been that successful in India.

Considering that India’s population is around 1.28 billion, the success rate of Hollywood films hasn’t been overwhelming.

India has a huge movie-going audience and has its own story… a style that’s very popular. Traditionally, films that aren’t domestic in India haven’t tended to land as well with the audience. It’s been a hard market to be successful in for Hollywood films,” Morris told IANS here during promotion of Disney-Pixar’s forthcoming film “The Good Dinosaur”.

“American films haven’t been successful in India as compared to other regions. So although we love to have an Indian audience… given the population…the audience tend to gravitate towards films made in India,” he said.

And that holds true for animation too.

“Ironically, there is a great bunch of animation studios in India. As these focus more on telling India-based stories… that’s where is the opportunity for animation to be more successful in India,” he said.

While most Hindi films manage to touch the Rs.100 crore mark in the country, this year’s 3D computer-animated film “Inside Out”, which turned out to be Disney-Pixar’s biggest animation film in India, made just Rs.7.7 crore at the box office.

But Asia as a whole is an important market. What about making films based on the region?

“The East has always been a huge force in animation. What we believe is that we are not Asians… It’s presumptuous for us to try to tell a story about Korea, China or Singapore. We need a filmmaker from these regions to make a film on them,” he said.

And they did find one to tell a story related to Hindu traditions. Directed by Sanjay Patel, the short animation film “Sanjay’s Super Team” shows Hindu gods as superheroes. It will be released along with “The Good Dinosaur” on December 4 in India.

“Sanjay’s Super Team” is Patel’s personal story and a “mostly true” chronicle of his journey to understand the Hindu world that is important to his parents, who have roots in Gujarat.

“Shorts are all original ideas. We make shorts for different reasons. Sometimes, it’s because we think that the person has a potential to be a director and then we give them training. Sometimes, they have a good story to tell and we like the idea. That’s the case with Sanjay. It is a special story,” said Morris.

What about opening institutions in India?

“No. We don’t think that’s a good way to make movies. I think the best way is to have a group work under one roof. We think that a great studio can be made in India or other parts of Asia, but we are not inclined to break off pieces,” said Morris.

(The writer’s trip was at the invitation of Disney. Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at natalia.n@ians.in)

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