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Friday, September 25, 2015

Baahubali Readies To Topple 'PK' Global Record

Article Credits : FORBES                            Author : Rob Cain

'Baahubali' Snags China Distribution, Readies To Topple 'PK' Global Record

India’s blockbuster hit Baahubali has secured a distribution deal in the People’s Republic of China with hopes for a November, 2015 release, pending approval by the country’s film authorities. 

The film was picked up by Chinese distributor E Stars, the company that brought the smash Indian comedy hit PK to mainland theaters in May of this year. PK’s $21 million PRC total obliterated the previous record of $3.17 million for an Indian film in China that had been set by Dhoom 3 in 2014. 

At a $91 million total worldwide gross, Baahubali is currently just $19 million (135 Crore rupees) shy of PK’s record-setting global total $110 million (735 Crore). If E Stars can push Baahubali to break PK’s China record, it would also simultaneously anoint the action epic as India’s all-time global box office champion. 

As I mentioned in a previous article, the Baahubali team have ambitious plans for a second round of theatrical distribution outside of India and the traditional Indian diaspora communities. I sat down last week with Baahubali’s director SS “Raja” Rajamouli and producer Shobu Yarlagadda to discuss their global strategy. 

Shobu explained that there had been multiple offers for Baahubali from Chinese distributors, but the choice had been relatively straightforward given E Stars’ enthusiasm, its deep experience in releasing dozens of foreign films in China, and its previous success with PK. 

He also told me that together with E Stars he’s aiming to secure one of China’s 34 annual revenue sharing import quota slots, which are typically more lucrative for the filmmakers than the alternative flat fee “buyout” arrangements whereby foreign producers receive only an upfront payment but no ongoing share of the box office revenue. A revenue sharing deal would pay the Baahubali producers 25 percent of the film’s gross China revenues. But it’s unclear at this point whether they’ll receive this designation, since almost all of 2015’s quota slots have already been granted. 

Of course, China is only one of many territories where the Baahubali team intend to screen the film. They showed me the new international cut of the picture, which is nearly 30 minutes shorter than the original Indian release cut, but just as powerful. Raja told me he had handed his original cut of the film over to editor Vincent Tabaillon–the French born, Los Angeles-based editor of such blockbusters as Clash of the Titans, The Incredible Hulk and Now You See Me–giving him complete creative freedom to make whatever changes to the film that he thought appropriate. Raja was delighted with the cut that Tabaillon delivered. I’ve now seen both the Indian and international cuts, and immensely enjoyed both versions.  
Shobu also visited with buyers at the recent Toronto International Film Festival, where he initiated several additional deals to bring Baahubali to theaters in more territories around the world. He’s also exploring the possibility of releasing the film in enhanced formats. When he’s ready to announce those deals you can count on me to report them to you here.


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