Mumbai: Disney’s movie marketers in India have pulled off a smashing debut for their new film The Jungle Book, with a 101 million rupee ($1.6 million) opening day haul on Friday.
Audiences across India were given the royal treatment with the opportunity to see Jungle Book a week ahead of its release in the U.S. and the rest of the world. Disney rolled out the family film in some 1,500 theaters nationwide in its original English, with additional dubbed versions in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu.
The hybrid live action/CGI adventure is directed by Jon Favreau (Elf, Iron Man) and stars 12 year-old American newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli, the boy raised by wolves in the Indian jungle with the help of Baloo the bear and Bagheera the black panther. In the Hindi language dub the lead animal roles are voiced by major Bollywood actors Priyanka Chopra, Irrfan Khan, Nana Patekar and Om Puri.
In a feat that Disney will be aiming to repeat in other territories, the film surprised analysts by earning better than two-thirds more than the consensus estimate of 60 million rupees ($1 million). It has set itself up nicely for what should be a 350 million ($5.3 million) to 400 million ($6 million) 3-day opening weekend.
The original Jungle Book stories were written by Rudyard Kipling in Vermont for his then 6-year-old daughter. They are beloved around the world, perhaps nowhere more than in India.
If opening day estimates hold up, Jungle Book will be confirmed as the second-highest opening Hollywood film ever to screen in India, just behind the 103 million debut of Disney’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, and just ahead of the 100 million opening day of Universal’s Furious 7.
The film has also won the distinction of being the 2nd highest opener among all films released in India so far this year, after the hit drama Airlift, which earned 125 million rupees on its first day.