Indian historical fiction film Baahubali 2: The Conclusion only began airing April 28 in the United States and is already smashing records, becoming the top-grossing Indian movie import of all time with $17.2 million, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
A sequel to a tale about warring royal cousins in an ancient kingdom, the film can attribute its success to a massive increase in the size of the Indian American population and its extremely high use of social media.
“With Indian cinema, we’ve been seeing the core audience grow for the past four years,” says Nikkole Denson-Randolph, the VP, Special & Alternative Content for AMC Theatres. With the Indian American population increasing by 60 percent between 2005 and 2015, Indian films have been able to do better than ever in the U.S.
“The social media power of the Indian diaspora is incredibly strong,” says IMAX Entertainment CEO Greg Foster, whose chain screened the movie in 40 different theaters across North America. “Did you see one traditional commercial for this movie? No. [But] everyone who needed to know about it did.”
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The movie was heavily promoted through social media: U.S. distributor Great India Films posted to various Indian social websites, and Bollywood Hungama and Behindwoods gave the movie exposure through digital ads and through ads during TV broadcasts of cricket games.
While 2015’s Baahubali: The Beginning grossed $6.7 million in the U.S., the sequel performed leaps ahead, with a simultaneous release in the U.S. and India – an attempt to minimize the amount of bootleg copies of Indian movies in the U.S.
Previous record-holder, Dangal, earned about $12.4 million in 2016, while Baahubali 2 is expected to earn twice that amount.
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