Gone are the days when a film went on to achieve Golden Jubilee or Silver Jubilee success. With multiple distribution channels, marketing tie-ups with print, radio, television, Internet, etc., available, a good opening weekend becomes critical for a movie’s success. How does one ensure that a film opens to a houseful audience the first day at the first show? This formed the basis of the discussion in the session on ‘The opening weekend: How to get audiences in?’
Moderated by Rajeev Masand, Entertainment Editor, CNN_IBN, the key speakers at the session included Colin Burrows, CEO, Specialtreats UK; Jyoti Deshpande, COO, Eros Multimedia; Komal Nahata, Editor, Trade, Analyst & Film Critic, Film Information; Naveen Shah, CEO, P9 Integrated; and, film director Kunal Kohli.
Burrows pointed out, “You need to decide on your product, what kind of film you would be making. Who is your audience? The actors, producers, script – all go into the making of a successful film.”
According to Deshpande, “The value chain is film production, film distribution and exhibition. Talent is the key stakeholder. Currently, we are skirting outside this value chain, but we are definitely moving towards the first step of the value chain – film production. We also need to keep in mind that talent cost and production cost are mounting.”
Commenting on film distribution, Deshpande said, “Small independent producers are marginal and sell their films to distribution houses. As for the established production houses, they are stable mini majors that produce and distribute their own films. What we are going to see in future is the entry of corporates in a big way which would co-produce a film following the studio model and acquired distribution model.”
She further said, “It takes 2-3 years to make a film, but it takes 20-30 years to build a distribution model. The science of distribution comes from a myth of 13,000 screens. There are only 1,000 prints of a movie. Nowadays, 80 per cent of the business comes from multiplexes. We need to keep in mind factors like other films, cricket tournaments, exams, holidays and the overseas market while distributing films. We need to have separate strategies for every film.”
So what is the mantra for attracting more audience to the theatres in the opening week? According to Deshpande, a film’s success lay primarily on word of mouth publicity. A favourable review worked wonders for a film’s success. But for that, the film had to have its own merits.
Nahata said, “Stakes for the opening weekend are going to increase as we go ahead. ‘Race’ was recently released in movie halls and there are 26 shows a day, compare this to what it was eight years ago when there used to be just 21 shows a week. We are talking about making as much money as possible on the first weekend itself. It’s nothing like quick money. A movie like ‘Bheja Fry’, which doesn’t have any big stars in it, would need to depend on word of mouth.”
“With increasing ticket prices, the audience thinks before spending that money in a movie hall. So, one needs to have a novelty element in a movie. Unique presentation and planning is required for a movie to be a success. Like ‘Vivaah’, for instance, which had good planning. Exploit the film accordingly. It is important to assess what we make,” Nahata added.
She further said, “The bottomline is to make money and sometimes for that compromises have to be made. The tools that are required for an opening weekend include a good star cast. But that does not always work out. Take the example of ‘Jodhaa Akbar’, which didn’t get a good opening despite starring Krithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai. Half of the battle is lost if a big budget film doesn’t get good opening. ‘Race’ made more money than the movie’s budget. We need to introduce new methods to budget a movie. Moreover, hit music is also important. A movie like ‘Raaz’, which had no known faces, became a hit based on its immensely popular music.”
P9 Integrated’s Naveen Shah asked, “How can we leverage the brand alliances in a film? Huge amount of media is behind the brands. We get one million POPS from ambient media and modern retail. For example, in ‘Om Shanti Om’, the amount of shopping we saw at Shoppers’ Stop was good leveraging for the retail brand.”
Said Kunal Kohli, “Don’t bank a film on controversy. Spend on paid publicity and focus on marketing. For example, in ‘Hum Tum’, we had no budget for publicity. We had to think out-of-the-box. We tied up with TOI for cartoons. We tied up with MTV. We tied with Sony’s of Jassi. We made promos with dialogues. We marketed everything about the film in a different way. It is important to make a good film and make it last beyond weekends. And for that we need to start thinking out-of-the-box.”