Can Priyanka Chopra Rescue Paramount Flop ‘Baywatch’ In India?

Don Groves Contributor
Baywatch itself is not big in India. Without Priyanka it would have sunk without trace.

Paramount’s big screen adaptation of the TV series Baywatch belly-flopped in the U.S. last weekend despite an attractive cast led by the usually bankable Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron.

So can the studio hope the critically-maligned action-comedy directed by Seth Gordon will fare better in India this weekend, banking on the popularity of co-star Priyanka Chopra in her Hollywood film debut?

Some film industry executives and analysts expect the opening will be relatively bigger than the U.S. debut of $23.1 million in four days on 3,647 screens and they expect Chopra’s presence will help drive ticket sales.

Paramount appears to be hedging its bets by launching the film, which also features Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Ilfenesh Hadera and Jon Bass, in English and dubbed in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu on June 2 on 700 screens.

That isn’t wide for a Hollywood title, which will likely face stiff competition from Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman. Sensibly the Bollywood actress is at the center of the marketing campaign.

“The prospects don’t look that good in India; that said, it will certainly have a better performance in India than it has had in the U.S.,” one film industry executive told me.

Chennai-based analyst Ramesh Bala is more optimistic, observing, “ Baywatch itself is not big in India. Without Priyanka it would have sunk without trace. Since Priyanka is there it will post decent numbers but nothing extraordinary.”

Bollywood Hungama’s Joginder Tuteja detects little excitement among moviegoers but said, “If the film opens with decent numbers it will be primarily because Priyanka’s name and face have been plastered all over the promotions.”

While most of the U.S. and international reviews were dire, some critics praised Chopra’s performance as the drug-smuggling gangster queen Victoria Leeds.

The U.K. Radio Times reviewer James Luxford derided the film as brainless, broad and a bit crude but charming and he opined the Quantico star “judges the mood perfectly, playing the villain with exactly the right amount of dramatic flair.”

 

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