Film industry needs to look beyond box office

MUMBAI: Tapping revenues beyond the box office is a challenge that the Indian film industry has to wake up to. This is particularly important when film production and marketing costs are going up.

Kick-starting the session on "Rethinking Fim Marketing and Distribution: Beyond Box Office" at Ficci-Frames here today, Moser Baer entertainment business CEO Harish Dayani said that only two per cent of India‘s population go to the cinema theatres to watch a film. Even as this percentage is declining, the game is to tap the remaining 98 per cent.

The need of the hour is to deliver the product to the consumers at their convenience without leaving any room for piracy which takes away a major chunk of the box office revenues.

Speaking on the scope that online distribution of films throws up, Rajshri Productions director Rajjat A Barjatya said: "We released the film Vivah simultaneously in 200 screens in India and 100 screens overseas as well as online. We got a whooping 6500 downloads worldwide. Online contributed to 50 per cent of our total revenues. The entire model turned out very well and that shows the future of online distribution."

Box office collections, however, stay as the major revenue earner for films. "Film is a brand which needs to be established well. This happens only at the box office and then the brand is ready to be exploited on other platforms. No one would buy an unknown brand," said Sony Pictures India CEO Uday Singh. The Sony distribution company recently diversified into film production and released Saawariya which fared average at the box office.

Indian filmmakers have started exploiting various revenue streams including merchandising. Mates CEO Darshana Bhalla cited the example of blockbuster film Om Shanti Om which earned 63 per cent through box office collections, but also raked in revenues from merchandising. OSO tied up with retail chain Shoppers Stop and organized fashion shows to promote the film. Home video accounted for 15 per cent of the film‘s gross earnings.

Another trend gaining currency is in-film placement of products.

Speaking at the session, Reliance Entertainment chief marketing officer Saurabh Varma said: "One will mainly see film merchandising on stationary, apparels and special items created around the subject of the movie."

Not a very unusual area of discussion, but gaming was another aspect touched upon by Varma. "In the past we have seen a few films coming up with post release games, some of which have been successful. Dhoom 2 is the prime example of the same. It was only after the film‘s success that the makers
decided a game on the same," he said.

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