The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Casino rolls in cash

Calcutta, Nov. 21: This casino is reeling in the rupee — Rs 14.94 crore in 72 hours flat.

As the new 007, Daniel Craig has rewritten Hollywood records in India with Casino Royale emerging as the highest opening weekend grosser for any foreign film in the country. In the process, the blond Bond has also opened up the Indian exhibition circuit as a major Asian market for American studios.

Adding more than 120 prints to their all-time high count of 304 prints for Spiderman 2, Sony Pictures India was always aiming big with the 21st James Bond film. Within three days of Casino Royale’s release in Indian theatres on last Friday, the gamble had paid off.

“It’s been fantastic,” Uday Singh, managing director of Sony Pictures India, told The Telegraph. “These are historic numbers that we are talking about here and I’m sure this will set a new benchmark and provide a case study for foreign films in India.”

Back in 2002, when the last Bond film, the Pierce Brosnan-starrer Die Another Day, was released with 262 prints in India, it made Rs 5.35 crore in the first three days. So, while the number of prints has not even doubled, the box-office collection has almost tripled.

Before Casino Royale, Spiderman 2 had the highest first weekend haul for any Hollywood film in India at Rs 7.8 crore. That’s a clear 92 per cent jump for the Bond film based on Ian Fleming’s first-ever novel about the master spy, published way back in 1953. The Martin Campbell-directed film also registered the highest-ever opening-day (Friday, Rs 4.74 crore) and single-day (Sunday, Rs 5.2 crore) collections for a foreign film in India.

“Besides the fact that the ticket prices have gone up in the last four years and a lot more multiplexes have come up in this period, this huge rise of figures shows that India has accepted Daniel Craig as the new Bond,” added Singh.

Casino Royale traces the story of Bond, from his teething mistakes as a new 007 agent to his first major assignment. The plot then moves on to a doomed love story, between 007 and a mysterious woman named Vesper Lynd (Eva Green). By the time the film wraps up, Craig’s Bond is ready to save the world, his trademark one-liners in place and the unmistakable theme tune in the background.

While the original English version of Casino Royale has done very well across the country, the dubbed Hindi version is struggling. “The Hindi version has not done well,” said Arijit Dutta, the east India distributor of the film.

Despite the failure to penetrate deep, Sony Pictures India expects Casino Royale to finish big. “The target figure for the company is Rs 40 crore,” revealed a trade insider.

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