Not even “thundering typhoons”—to borrow a line from Captain Haddock—could have kept moviegoers in India away from The Adventures of Tintin. Steven Spielberg’s 3D revival of the exploits of the boy-reporter-turned-detective earned $1.5 million in its first weekend, the highest-ever opening for an animated movie in India. Tintin opened there fully six weeks ahead of its Dec. 21 North American release date. Spielberg himself made the call. “Tintin is huge in India,” a Sony Pictures (India) spokesperson explains.
Why are Indians so taken with Tintin? Sandip Roy, writing on The Huffington Post, suggests it was his independence and curiosity—traits “never encouraged in our schools, which were all about obedience and memory.” The books were first translated into Bengali in the mid-’70s. The Hindi translation, which began in 2005, was an onerous process, befitting its cultural significance. It took two years to find a translator who “lived, ate, dreamt and breathed Tintin,” according to publisher Ajay Mago. “The litmus test,” he adds, “was how well a translator could translate ‘billions of blue blistering barnacles.’ ”