“Sultan” a 2016 film about a past-it wrestler looking to make an improbable comeback, is the latest Indian movie to score a release in mainland Chinese theaters. Starring Salman Khan and Anushka Sharma, the film is set to be released in China on Aug. 31.
Produced by Yash Raj Films, “Sultan” has been picked up by E Stars China, the indie distributor behind many of the other recent Indian success stories in China. The film is set to play on an initial 11,000 screens, with about 40,000 screenings per day, according to Yash Raj.
Over the past two years, Indian films have found unprecedented success with mainstream theatrical releases in China. Significantly, most have been what Indian studios describe as “content-driven” titles, rather than the star-driven and Masala movies from mainstream Bollywood.
The biggest Indian film success was last year’s “Dangal,” which earned $193 million. That inspired the release of more unlikely titles including “Ek Prem Toilet” and “Hindi Medium.” It also inspired the release of other titles that had largely completed their theatrical runs in other territories. The 2015 title “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” in March this year became the first Salman Khan title to get a release in China, with fellow superstar Aamir Khan having until then been the most successful Indian star in China.
“China is without doubt the new frontier for Indian cinema today, and our collective successes there ratifies the belief that art has no boundaries [or] borders. Our strength has always been to tell emotional human stories, and humans are the same everywhere so it’s very encouraging to see this connect,” said Avtar Panesar, VP of international operations at Yash Raj.
“Every time a film releases and newer set of audiences see it, you get a different perspective altogether. China is a fast-growing market for Indian cinema. I’m really excited and looking forward to people’s reaction to ‘Sultan’ in China,” said the film’s director, Ali Abbas Zafar.