India's biggest film production ever, Robot, starring Rajnikanth and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, will roll out in around 30 countries this weekend (October 1), at the same time as its highly anticipated Indian release.
The film is India's most expensive ever with a budget of $33m (Rs1.50bn). However, it wasn't produced by the Hindi-speaking Bollywood film industry, but by the Tamil-language film industry based in Chennai.
In order to reach the widest audience possible, the film was made in three languages - Tamil, Hindi and Telegu.
London-based B4U Pictures is handling the release of the Hindi version outside of India, and has booked the film into some 25-30 countries with around 200 prints. In addition to the US and UK, the film will also open in South Africa, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea.
Rajnikanth, the mustachioed hero of the film who is a huge star southern India, also has a following in Japan. However, it's difficult to secure cinema slots in the competitive Japanese market, and the film will open there in two or three weeks.
Hindi is the most widely spoken language among the Indian diaspora, although the Tamil and Telegu versions will also be released in some countries.
Robot is directed by S. Shankar, who also made Rajnikanth's 2007 smash hit Sivaji: The Boss. It tells the story of an android called Chiti, whose purpose is to protect humanity, but who runs into difficulties when he begins to experience human emotions.
The director told Indian press that he made the film to be appreciated by an international audience: "The script is more like an international film. Anyone from anywhere can understand, identify and enjoy the movie," Shankar said. "People in villages will also be able to understand it easily...it's perfect for the Indian audience."
Around 40% of the film's budget was spent on special effects. Stan Winston Studio, which worked on Jurassic Park and Avatar, provided the animatronics technology. Hong Kong action director Yuen Woo Ping, who worked on Kill Bill and The Matrix films, was stunt coordinator for the film.
Judging by the advance buzz,
Robot is expected to be a huge hit but will go head-to-head with a big Bollywood film,
Anjaana Anjaani, which had its release postponed from September 24 to October 1. In southern India there is no contest - Rajnikanth is worshipped like a god in the southern states - but the competition will be tougher in northern India and overseas.
India's highest-grossing film ever - 3 Idiots, starring Aamir Khan - was released at the end of last year and raked in $72m in India and $16m overseas. While Rajnikanth is not as well known outside India as stars such Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan, Robot has created significant publicity internationally due to the size of its budget, its exotic shooting schedule in India, the US and Machu Picchu, and its elaborate special effects.