Business Talk

The focus has shifted to the releases in January. A crucial month by all standards. But the pertinent question is, will the first month of the new year bring good tidings for the film industry? The scenario in 2002 was disturbing, but let’s hope things perk up in the coming year.

Undoubtedly, the month of January is crucial, but producers need to space out their releases. Right now, as I pen this piece, I observe that the weeks of January 17 and 24 look congested with new releases. Too many films clashing on the same date can result in utter chaos. The business is sure to get divided.

The success of HYDERABAD BLUES and BOMBAY BOYS has sparked off a new trend – ‘Hinglish’ films. And this genre is gaining momentum. Variety of subjects, which were considered taboo at a point of time, are being attempted these days. Almost every second producer is planning medium-budget films that would cost him anywhere between Rs. 2 and Rs. 3 crores. “What’s the point of paying Rs. 2.5 to Rs. 3 crores to the star when he cannot even guarantee an opening,” observes a top-notch producer. I completely agree!

At a time when the film industry is reeling through a major financial crisis, various remedies to revive the production sector are being thought of. One such suggestion is that the stars – their remuneration constitutes 50 to 60% of a film’s budget – should stop charging a fixed remuneration. Instead, like it happens in Hollywood, the stars can charge a fixed percentage from the profits. But the question is, will it work in Bollywood?

Deviating from the trend of increasing the ticket rates when a new film opens, Dilip Dhanwani, the Mumbai distributor of CHALO ISHQ LADAAYE, has done something diverse. He has asked the exhibitors screening the film to reduce the ticket rates. Also, at select cinema halls of Mumbai city, he has thought of a novel strategy to attract more crowds. Buy 3 tickets, get 1 ticket free – for the child-companion.

And now to the most important topic!

Every time an eagerly-awaited film is due for release, people within the industry start praying that it should bail the industry out from the crisis. But the moment the film releases and the first show ends, the same people change roles – they become destructors. Forget looking at the positive side of the business, their talk reeks of pessimism, venom, jealousy, negativity and vindictiveness. They pray for the collections to drop. The attitude is sickening!

If K3G was the topic of discussion last year, it is KAANTE this year. At a time when the film industry is going through a depressing phase, with a majority of big-budget films failing to fetch a face-saving initial, the opening of KAANTE was stupendous. “It brought back smiles on the faces of exhibitors,” a prominent exhibitor of Gujarat tells me.

When a biggie has been released with over 500 prints, like in the case of K3G and KAANTE, it is but natural that the Monday collections may not match the Friday figures. A drop is inevitable in today’s times, also because there’s so much entertainment around [films are no longer the only source of entertainment today – television has taken over in a big way]. And if the first week billing is fabulous, why crib?

Gone are the days when the success of a film was gauged by the percentage it grossed. Percentages are obsolete in the current scenario, for what matters is the billing [distributor’s share] eventually.

The same people who cursed K3G initially, had to chew back their words when they eventually saw the massive business it eventually did. The first week billing of KAANTE in every circuit is expected to be mind-blowing. That’s what matters at the end of the day, right?

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