Indian films are getting attention for their releases in China, but more from Indian media than Chinese audiences.
Indian films and Chinese films shot in India continue to be a growing trend in China, although India’s media remains more excited about the whole thing than Chinese audiences.
India’s box office champion Aamir Khan will release Dangal on May 5, in his attempt to top his own record for the most successful Indian film in China box office history, set in 2015 by PK. That will be followed by Salman Khan’s (no relation) Tubelight, a story of the 1962 Sino-Indian border war, whose exact Chinese release date has yet to be announced.
The film features Chinese rising star Zhu Zhu as the female lead. Although Zhu is bilingual in Chinese and English, Tubelight will be released in a dubbed Chinese version.
Tubelight‘s release and subject matter come at a time when Sino-Indian relations are still finding their footing, with the two countries working together economically, but where border disputes — including ones left unresolved from the 1962 war — remain thorny.
Chinese audiences have certainly seen a lot more of India on their cinema screens of late. Chinese New Year/Spring Festival releases Buddies in India and Kung Fu Yoga, and China’s 2016 Academy Awards Best Foreign Language Film nominee Xuanzang were all shot at least partially on location. While Buddies and Kung Fu were successful, their setting in India was tangential to their box office take.
One report states that Tubelight will receive the biggest release ever by an Indian film, which would mean more than the 4,000 screens for PK. That report could not be independently confirmed by China Film Insider.
Still, Indian films have a lot of ground to cover before they become a factor at China’s box office. PK was the first Indian film to do more than RMB 100 million (US$14.5 million) in China, but the standard for a successful domestic release or international import is now at least 10 times that. China’s new all-time international box office champion, the Hollywood import The Fate of the Furious, has so far pulled in over RMB 2.4 billion.