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Marketing takes a brand-new 'Avatar'

10,000 sq feet Avatar billboard, biggest ever for a movie, to be put up at North Mumbai's busy Andheri Link Road for two weeks.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Dec 16, 2009, 01.41 AM IST
Hollywood's 3D sci-fi epic Avatar
Hollywood's 3D sci-fi epic Avatar
MUMBAI: As you pass by North Mumbai’s busy Andheri Link Road, a gigantic billboard of Avatar catches the eye. James Cameron’s world of Pandora inhabited by the Na’vi with its brilliant blues, beckons as you crane your neck trying to sweep in the huge visual in one glance. This road is an important one for all marketeers across industries since it boasts a catchment which houses the city’s youngest demographic.

And, critically, with four multiplex chains within a radius of two kilometers it also attracts much of maximum city’s cine-goer as well.

The Avatar billboard is 10,000 sq feet – the biggest ever for a movie – and will be up there for the next two weeks. Since it’s part of a package, the exact cost is difficult to gauge but a similar size would cost anywhere between Rs 40-50 lakh, according to market sources. And, the normal-sized billboards, even the big ones, go up to a maximum of 2,500 sq ft.

“The scale of Avatar is hhhhuge and all our activities are aligned to promote that very scale and the stature of James Cameron’s magnum opus,” says Fox Star Studios CEO Vijay Singh.

Doffing its hat in respect to big brother Hollywood is the Hindi film industry. Cameron’s tetra offering (Rs 2,000 crore) will be the only film to release this week – which is no small feat, given the crowded release calendar in the last quarter of this year, largely due to the month-long summer stand-off between filmmakers and exhibitors.

Though Hollywood’s market in India maybe insignificant (5-7% of total filmed content can be approximately pegged to a Rs 400 crore-market) in a country ruled by Hindi and South Indian cinema, the recent success of both 2012 and the Twlight sequel New Moon came as saviours to many an exhibitor.

But by flexing the strength of a studio – a first – Vijay Singh has chosen to ride his next big Bollywood release – My Name is Khan (MNK) – on Hollywood’s biggest film of the year. Along with Avatar, a three-minute first look of Karan Johar’s magnum opus will be shown across India, UK, Australia, some EU countries. Due to logistical reasons the US will see the same next week.

“It is Hollywood’s scale and specially Avatar’s which has caught up with Bollywood. The stature of both films is huge. So Hindi film’s biggest film, MNK, (Rs 70-80 crore budget) with an epic love story had to be showcased alongside a big canvas film and we could not get anything bigger than Cameron!” exults Singh.

It was in the last week of October that Johar, Singh and his team froze in on MNK’s release date as February 12, 2010. The Studio recognized that there was a tremendous opportunity to leverage the SRK- and Kajol-starrer alongside Cameron’s Avatar. Work began accordingly on the massive logistics to release MNK’s first look across countries simultaneously.

“It is definitely a back-handed compliment to Avatar and possibly something only a studio of the scale like Fox could do it,” says Singh, back from a euphoric London trip where Avatar had its premiere to an outstanding ovation from the entire Hollywood industry.

“We began the year with a winner (Slumdog Millionaire which collected Rs 40 crore in India between both its Hindi and English version) and are closing the year with the most anticipated film from Hollywood. I am confident of Avatar working in India for three reasons: it’s a love story, it’s completely engaging and it’s a massive, massive live action, not-yet-seen before, film. Cameron’s unique fantasy world amazes and engages the viewer in a completely unbelievable viewing experience,” ends Singh.
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