Smart marketing and proper distribution play a key role in the success of a good movie, especially in the international markets. The session on ‘Marketing & Distribution of Films: The Global Perspective’, moderated by Ronnie Screwvala, Chairman, UTV, saw a keen discussion on the various key points that help a global product communicate locally, keeping in mind the specifics of the particular region.
Mark Zoradi, President, Buena Vista International, spoke on marketing of a film in different countries and across various regions. He said, “The US and India are two of the world’s largest democracies and the two also have the longest history of films. India has a rich film history, but it faces difficulty in cross-selling its movies. But despite the challenges, there is a huge potential. For us, the goal is to find great stories that will do well and this is the key to success. In the last one year, Hollywood movies performed much better in international markets - almost 162 per cent better than it did in the US - and grossed $470 million. It is important to analyse what really works and what the typical genres that perform well in the international markets are.”
He explained that typically, blockbuster movies like ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, star-driven movies like ‘Mr & Mrs Smith’, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate factory’, action adventure movies like ‘The Island’ and ‘007’ do well internationally. Sophisticated and art house movies like 'Pride & Prejudice' and 'Memoirs of a Geisha' have also done well, but US-centric movies like ‘We were soldiers’, and US-based light comedies like ‘Wedding Crashers’ have not performed too well outside the US. The Motion Pictures Association internationally has had a box office growth of 5 per cent over the past decade, and by 2008, it is expected to grow to $8-9 billion.
The US' share of the revenue pie of Hollywood movies has reduced in the last five years to account for 38.7 per cent in 2005, from 48 per cent in 2000. Correspondingly, the share of Hollywood movies in international markets has grown to 61.3 per cent in 2005 from 51.9 per cent in the 2000. By 2010, the optimistic expectation from the international share of revenues was 65-80 per cent, according to the Buena Vista President.
“This has been possible because of our adaptation and localisation methods, which means that the marketing and communication of the movie is specific for every country. Many a time, we even change the title of the movies for the specific international markets. As part of our localisation drive, we empower our people to enable localised execution. We concentrate heavily on advertising and promotions, and do large-scale premier events to get into the local news and generate publicity and hype,” said Zoradi.
He cited the successful example of localisation of ‘Mr Incredible’, which became ‘Hum Hain Lajawaab’. The association of Shah Rukh Khan has helped things further. “As a way forward, we are concentrating on the Indian industry, which has wealth of great stories. Bollywood is starting to have a significant impact on Hollywood, and there is a tremendous opportunity. There can be no better time than now to work together,” he observed.
Peter Buckingham, Head of Distribution and Exhibition, UK Film Council, provided a different perspective. He dwelled on how non-mainstream films could succeed in UK cinema and what it was that affected films - all discussed from the perspective of audiences. He began by saying that the specialised/non-Hollywood films contributed only 5.6 per cent of all cinema admissions in the UK, and only 5 per cent were non-Hollywood movies. He divided the UK filmgoer into four categories - mainstream, mainstream plus, aficionados and buffs - with mainstream moviegoers being the rigid only UK filmlovers and buffs being ready to experiment and consume different kinds of cinema.
Buckingham’s presentation threw light on which movies and which genres actually worked with the UK cinema lover, and which just did not. According to him, it was important to map movies and the audience before releasing an international movie in the UK.
A clear understanding of the positioning of the movie and the scope of the genre, and focused and localised marketing and communication, are quintessential for the success of movies abroad. Bollywood will have to rise to the challenge.