Does negative publicity help boost a movie's business?

With Kartik Aaryan's 'Pati, Patni or Woh' being the latest movie in controversy, experts believe that controversies only help movies to attract more audiences, grab more eyeballs and boosts revenues

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Nov 8, 2019 9:38 AM
Controversy movies Bollywood

While it takes hard efforts and huge money to make a movie, it takes just a single controversy to bring a movie's fate into crisis. From Kabir Singh to Padmavat, there is a long list of Bollywood movies that got into controversies. Kartik Aaryan's dialogue on marital rape in his upcoming movie "Pati Patni Aur Woh" is the latest to add the list. Do these controversies impact the business of the movie?

Well, the box office collections shows that most movies end up earning huge after such controversies.

The Bhansali directorial, Padmavat, faced major controversies, demands requiring makers to change the name of the movie, the movie being released only in 70% part of India, but it still got an amazing opening and earned Rs 19 crore on the first day. Kabir Singh is another recent example, the movie got lashed on twitter for portraying a negative character, yet it had a huge opening with a domestic collection of Rs 20.21 crore on its opening day. Despite facing massive criticism on social media, the movie got a worldwide gross collection of Rs 379.02 crores. The list doesn't stop there. 3 idiots, PK, Padman etc also dealt with controversies and yet made crores.

We talked to experts on the authenticity of such controversies and how ‘Pati, Patni aur Woh' controversy could affect the business of the movie.

“Practically, I don't think filmmakers want unnecessary mess but yes once a movie gets into controversy it creates curiosity amongst audiences and interestingly also contributes to revenue increase of the film,” said Girish Johar, Film Trade and Business analyst.

“In the era of social media, most controversies are created by a certain section of people who probably don't like some representation in the movie,” Johar added. “At the same time, today the audience is mature enough to decide and understand whether a certain issue is being created or not.”

Sharing his thoughts on the ‘Pati Patni aur Woh’ controversy, Johar said, “Kartik Aaryan is a big star and has his fan base, I don't think it is going to impact the movie in any negative way. It will only help him rise. Also, I don't think this controversy has much depth. However, filmmakers and stars should be very careful while touching on such sensitive issues.”

"Despite being negative, these controversies eventually act like any other marketing device," highlighted Harikrishnan Pillai, co-founder and CEO, TheSmallBigIdea. 

“Negative publicity or controversies around is nothing but a strong opinion around a film from a certain section of the society, which leads to higher SOV of a non-positive nature,” added Pillai.

However, makers of Bollywood movies have also been claimed of intentionally creating controversies to make their movie the talk of the town. 

"Well, such controversies generate curiosity and that curiosity often transforms into success," said Atul Mohan, Film trade analyst. “In a lot of cases controversies have helped films, generate the necessary heat around it and gain profit out of it.” 

“But not every controversy can guarantee you a hit. A controversy may help if it goes well with the film and justifies it. In short, it depends on how genuine the controversy is. Some makers try to generate false controversies and it may fall flat,” Mohan explained.

Talking about Kartik Aaryan's dialogue on marital rape in ‘Pati Patni Aur Woh’ Mohan said, “I am sure this dialogue was difficult to go through the censor and since we don't have censorship on online platforms they enjoy uninterrupted viewing.” 

“Some sections of the society may get or is offended by this and I am sure it won't be there in the film. But this one starts the talking point for the film and will surely help the film to stay in discussion, grab more attention which will surely result in greater revenue for filmmakers,” Mohan concluded.

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