800 prints is largest for Hollywood pic in India

Distrib Fox Star Studios India will release “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” on more than 800 prints, the biggest bow for a Hollywood film in the country.

Previous record was held by 2009’s “2012,” which went out on 766 prints and grossed more than $20 million.

“Narnia” opens Dec. 3, a week ahead of its U.S. release. It will go out in the English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu languages, plus 3D versions. This strategy is often employed by studios to counter rampant piracy in the region.

India is a religious country, where devotional pics are popular, even if Christians are not a majority.

The distrib also has a shrewd eye on the crowded December frame. If the film were to be released as originally planned on Dec. 10, it would have been up against Bollywood buzz title “No Problem,” directed by Anees Bazmee and toplining Anil Kapoor (“Slumdog Millionaire”), Akshay Khanna and Sanjay Dutt. Bazmee’s previous release, 2008’s “Singh Is Kinng,” did boffo business, with in excess of $33 million.

On Dec. 3, “Narnia” will contend with low-budget local films, with only helmer Ashutosh Gowariker’s period political drama “Khelein hum jee jaan sey” carrying any buzz.

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