The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Ashutosh Nayak, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
“Jungle jungle pata chala hai, chaddi pahan ke fool khila hai” – The Jungle Book anthem is on everyone’s lips today as Walt Disney Co. has managed to do something with its movie adaptation of the popular story book that many Oscar movies have failed to do: sell in India. The film based on the famous Rudyard Kipling book has collected over $24 million during its first two weeks in Indian theaters making it the highest-grossing Hollywood film ever in India making India its third-biggest market just after its domestic market (U.S. & Canada) and China.
One of the secrets to Disney’s success was a marketing campaign that tapped into nostalgia among young adults for the Jungle Book stories, which revolve around the adventures of an Indian boy named Mowgli. A cartoon series based on Kipling’s tales, which was made in Japan, was hugely popular when it aired on state television in India in the 1990s. Disney wanted to “awaken the Mowgli in every Indian,” said Amrita Pandey, a vice president at Disney in India. In addition to children, the movie drew “parents, young working adults—everyone who wanted to come see the film. And that happened because we revived their childhood,” she said.
The company also expanded the film’s reach by distributing it dubbed in three local languages—Hindi, Tamil and Telugu—in addition to the English version. The non-English versions accounted for more than half of all ticket sales. “It is really tough to get the numbers if it’s just an English film,” Ms. Pandey said. However, the scenario presents a sign that U.S. studios are gaining significant traction in the world’s second-most-populous country, a market that has long eluded them.