Almost 25% of Movie Screens in China Showing Bollywood Film ‘Dangal,’ Except in Wanda Cinemas

| May 06, 2017 04:38 AM EDT

"Dangal" is currently the highest-grossing Indian film in China.

The Bollywood movie “Dangal” was supposed to make cinema history by opening in 9,000 out of the almost 40,000 screens across China. It is about 25 percent of all the theaters in the second-largest movie market in the world.

The movie, starring Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, premiered on Friday, May 5, in China. Its Chinese title is “Shuai Jiao Baba,” which means “Let’s Wrestle, Dad.” It is co-produced by Disney India, Hindustan Times reported.

Widest Release for an Indian Movie

Amrita Pandey, vice president for Studios of Disney India, said the China showing would be the widest ever release for an Indian movie in any territory. The 9,000 screens is larger than all the screens in India put together.

India’s total screen is at 8,500, to include multiplexes and single screens, according to the KPMG-Ficci Indian Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2016. Although Bollywood produces one of the largest numbers of movies annually, the low screen density prevents the Indian film industry from growing at a faster rate similar to India although it has the potential because of India’s more than 1 billion population.

When “Dangal” opened in India, its box office was almost 350 crore, making the movie about former Indian wrestler Mahavi Phogat, who trained two of his daughters to become world-class wrestlers, the highest in the country’s box-office history, First Post reported. When it was shown in December 2016, it broke box-office records in India for 2016, but eventually established a new national record and benchmark at 350 crore or about $545 million. After “Dangal” comes “Baahubali” and “Bajrangi Bhaijaan.”

Dalian Wanda “Boycotts” Film?

However, in an update, Hindustan Times reported that the number of screens showing “Dangal” was down to 7,000 after Wanda Cinema, owned by the Dalian Wanda Group, the biggest cinema owners in the world, and allegedly boycotted the Bollywood blockbuster with only 37 screens from Wanda showing the film as of Friday night.

Wanda initially allocated 3,000 cinemas for “Dangal” but backtracked, possibly triggered by business rivalry. A writer for a box-office tracker discovered that the company in charge of the Bollywood film’s distribution in China is Hua Ying Tian Xia whose chairman transferred from Wanda to Huaying, a business competitor of Wanda.

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