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‘Star Wars’ Could Be Upstaged in India By Bollywood Holdovers

Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is set for a Christmas Day release in India, but the box office picture is far from simple.

Two of the biggest releases of the year, Rohit Shetty’s “Dilwale” starting megastar Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol, and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Bajirao Mastani,” starring the enormously popular Ranveer Singh, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra, open a week earlier on Dec. 18.

“They are both big films and since they are releasing on the same day, one week is not enough to do them justice at the box office,” leading Indian distributor Anil Thadani of A.A. Films told Variety.

Thadani says that the box office performance of the big ticket Bollywood films will decide how many screens “Star Wars” gets and this will impact box office accordingly.

If as is likely, given the box office track record of the filmmakers and the stars, “Dilwale” and “Bajirao Mastani” are held over in a substantial percentage of cinemas, the force will awaken slowly in India. But when it does, “It is a franchise film and it will perform as well as other franchise films,” says Thadani.

Despite the huge population, Hollywood films typically total modest box office numbers in India. No exhibitor was willing to go on the record with a box office forecast for “Awakens” in India, though unattributable comments pointed to the force exceeding “Spectre” which achieved $4.8 million.

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