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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 November, 2003, 15:45 GMT
Matrix takes on Bollywood nation
By Jayshree Bajoria
BBC correspondent in Bombay

Matrix Revolutions
The Matrix Revolutions is the final film in the trilogy
For the first time a Hollywood film is being released in India at the same time as it is released in the rest of the world.

The Matrix Revolutions, the third and concluding movie in the Matrix trilogy, an epic war between man and machine, opens in Indian cinemas on Wednesday, 5 November.

That coincides with its opening in 60 other countries.

The Matrix Revolutions, which is poised to set new box office records worldwide, is also being dubbed in three Indian languages.

Hollywood bonanza

Hollywood-loving Indian movie fans had never had it so good.

Studio 20th Century Fox is planning to release the next James Bond film in India along with the rest of the world.

One reason for India getting on Hollywood's global release map is the fact that Hollywood films are doing exceedingly well in what is primarily a Bollywood film country.

The Bombay-based Bollywood industry churns out close to a thousand films every year, mostly song-and-dance extravaganzas peppered with action.

One industry source said that the box office pickings of Hollywood films in India had risen by "30 to 40%" this year.

Titanic (1998): $11m
Spiderman (2002): $6.6m
Godzilla (1998): $6.1m
Die Another Day (2002): $5m
Terminator 3 (2003): $3.5m
Last year's international hit Spiderman grossed $6.6m at the box office, higher than many Bollywood hits.

"There is a certain genre of Hollywood films with action, suspense, thrills and special effects that do well in India. Indian films often lack these," said Bollywood distributor Shyam Shroff.

Relaxation of import laws have also helped the Hollywood studios to release films quicker in India in the past few years.

While Terminator III and Spiderman were released in India three weeks after their international release, Charlie's Angels II was released only a week after its worldwide release.

Checking piracy

Curbing piracy is another reason behind The Matrix Revolutions simultaneous release in India.

"Films that are going to get largely affected by piracy, like the Bond and Matrix ones, have cult followings in India," managing director of 20th Century Fox in India Aditya Shastri told BBC News Online.

"Hollywood films form 8 to 10% of the total Indian [film] market which is about 250-300 crore rupees ($55m-$66m)," he said.

The explosive growth of multiplex cinemas all over India is also helping Hollywood films to do well.

"When Titanic was released (in 1998), it was put up in only two theatres in Bombay. If Titanic were to release today, 50 prints would easily sell in Bombay alone," said Mr Shroff.

The Matrix Revolutions
Hollywood action films like The Matrix Revolutions are popular in India
Bollywood directors welcome Hollywood's success with Indian movie-goers.

"It can only raise the standard of our cinema. The quality of [Hollywood] films is so much better, so when audiences begin comparing our films to theirs, we will have to improve our cinemas," said top Bollywood director Karan Johar.

One Bollywood analyst says that Bollywood and Hollywood will co-exist happily in India.

He said that a lot of big Bollywood and Hollywood films had opened at the same time, and enjoyed big opening weekends.

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