After being released theatrically in October, Bollywood blockbuster Happy New Year just went live online, taking the Direct-To-Fan route. The Shah Rukh Khan-starrer simultaneously became available on its own platform for download worldwide this afternoon, outside of India and China, and in an effort to bring it to more unconventional distribution markets. The initiative was spurred by Khan’s production company Red Chillies Entertainment, which says, “The most important aspect for any filmmaker is that his or her film reaches the maximum amount of people.” Happy New Year has already reached its fair share of audiences. It holds the record for the biggest opening weekend of 2014 in India and went on to gross $32M there, along with $5.1M in the U.S. and the UK. Digital copies are selling for $4.99 ($6.99 with a bonus feature). The film won’t be released on any other platforms, but the DVD will come out down the road, I’m told.
Khan, aka SRK, is considered by many to currently be the biggest Bollywood star in the world and essentially any movie he makes is a global event spread throughout the diaspora. He’s also been listed as the 2nd richest actor on the planet with a net worth of $600M. Happy New Year was his only big international release this year, following Chennai Express in 2013 which was also a global hit. SRK’s Om Shanti Om and Chennai co-star Deepika Padukone is also in Happy New Year which was directed by Om Shanti Om helmer and Chennai choreographer Farah Khan. Yash Raj Films had theatrical rights only and released Happy New Year, about a group of six “losers” who fake participating in a dance competition in an attempt to pull off the greatest diamond heist ever.
The direct-to-fan release model has largely been used by the music industry internationally and Red Chillies says Happy New Year is the first commercial film to release worldwide in such a way. “We at Red Chillies have always taken pride in establishing new trends and delighting our fans,” says CEO Venky Mysore.
SRK himself tweeted to his 10.5M followers this afternoon: