FICCI Frames 2008: Box office or out of the box?

By , agencyfaqs!, Mumbai | In Media | March 27, 2008
Stalwarts of the film and entertainment business deliberated on the newer streams of revenue on which the film fraternity could cash in

The oldest & #BANNER1 & # form of entertainment - films - has discovered newer and savvier means of revenue generation these days. Filmmakers and producers worry less about the fate of a movie at the box office because there are several other means of garnering revenue by building popularity and leveraging other forms of entertainment. Rajjat Barjatya, director, Rajshri Productions; Uday Singh, chief executive officer, Sony Pictures; and Darshana Bhalla, CEO, MATES, shared their take on how to extract full value from a film.

Unlike the content of its films, Rajshri Productions has a rather cosmopolitan approach to the business of entertainment. Rajjat Barjatya started his talk by emphasising on the need to look beyond the box office. He said that every film production company must have two main objectives: to take the film to as wide an audience as possible as soon as possible, and to monetise the consumption. This, he said, would reduce piracy to a great extent.

Rajjat Barjatya

Uday Singh

Darshana Bhalla
"Piracy happens when there is unavailability of the product and when the product is expensive. If we take the film to as many audiences as possible, then the demand-supply issue is sorted out," he explained.

Barjatya said that while marketing a film, filmmakers concentrate on Tier 1 and 2 cities and ignore the rest. "This is not a good idea because audiences in Tier 3 and 4 cities are equally interested in movies and exposed to mass media," he said.

He spoke about the other screens that have emerged in recent years such as the personal computer, iPod and mobile. He was very proud of the fact that Rajshri's most recent movie, Vivaah, earned 50 per cent of its revenue from the box office and the other half from alternate revenue streams such as Internet and mobile downloads. Vivaah was released simultaneously in the theatres and on the Internet. reportedly got 6,500 downloads of the movie.

Barjatya told his fellow panellists and the audience that if a movie is to be released, one has to create excitement about it, take it to the Internet, home video, mobile and eventually TV, exploiting the user-pay platform throughout. This, he said, would reduce dependence on box office revenue.

Uday Singh of Sony Pictures, which is constantly in the forefront of innovation, disagreed with Barjatya. He was of the opinion that the box office would continue to rule, despite the emergence of newer streams of revenue. "The fact that the community viewing experience continues to delight audiences won't change, despite the video on demand and DVD phenomenon," he said, citing the gradual progress from single screens to multiplexes to megaplexes. However, he did take note of opportunities such as merchandising, in-film placements and spin-off opportunities such as short video clips played on websites and mobiles.

According to him, it was imperative for a film to appeal to all kinds of audiences in this heterogeneous market. This implied tweaking the communication to appeal to all kinds of people, however demographically or culturally different. Sony Pictures turned the chef of the French movie, Ratatouille, into a Bhojpuri character to dilute the French element in the film and better suit the audience's taste. Similarly, Spiderman 3 was released in Bhojpuri, Tamil and various other languages.

Darshana Bhalla of MATES, which specialises in in-film branding, shared the Om Shanti Om case study with the audience. Brands such as Maybelline, Nokia and Tag Heuer were woven into the film. While 63 per cent of the film's revenue was earned at the box office, home video contributed 13 per cent and music sales contributed 4 per cent. Other streams such as in-film advertisements, brand associations and merchandising also contributed.

Maybelline, for instance, which was woven in as part of the movie while grooming the heroine, Deepika Padukone, got the movie Rs 5 crore. The Shoppers' Stop Om Shanti Om Collection, an exclusive range of clothing inspired by the 1970s, contributed another Rs 8 crore. Even the mobile medium, in which the movie tied up with Nokia, brought in Rs 60 lakh through downloads of behind the scenes videos of the movie.

Bhalla concluded by saying that one needed to go all out while promoting a movie.