Strike over, Bollywood faces problem of plenty

MUMBAI: The Bollywood strike may have ended, but the door has opened for a problem of plenty as producers rush for a release pipeline.

More than 90 films are lined up for release in exactly 30 week’s time before the year ends. That means an average of three releases per week to accommodate a stockpile, spurring producers to work out plans to beat the clutter and avoid internal clashes so as to maximise revenue for all.

“Producers will soon form a committee that will work towards clearing the backlog of films,” a noted film producer tells on request of anonymity.

Beating the logjam will be quite a task as the studios threaten to swing back into action fast. Says Big Cinemas COO Mahesh Ramanathan, “As we had declared earlier, we will be releasing 18 movies in 2009. We are moving according to our plans. We have already had a release on 30 January last when we released Luck By Chance.”

With the strike called off, Big Cinemas will follow its 12 June release of Kal Kisne Dekha with Sikander, Mirch and Chaloo Movie. “A spate of other films will hit the screens post-July,” says Ramanathan.

UTV has played it safe by not scheduling any of its films during IPL and T20 World Cup. “Our first release will come in the form of Agyat that will be released on 24 July and Kaminaay will release in August,” a source in UTV says.

UTV’s slate includes films like Main Aur Mrs Khanna, Agyat, What‘s your Rashee, Wake Up Sid, Hook Ya Crook, Delhi Belly, Jihaad, A Wednesday (remake in Tamil and Telugu), Yahoo, Film City, Arjun, Alibaba & 41 Thieves, Ex-Terminators and Rajniti, Hawai Dada.

In the pipeline also are five films of UTV SpotBoy (Aage Se Right, Pan Singh Tomar, Seasons Greetings, Peter Gaya Kaam Se and Chillar Party), Sanjay Leela Bhansali‘s next with Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai, Anuraag Basu‘s next and a Anees Bazmee directed comedy.

Other films that have been lined up for release in subsequent weeks include Arif Shaikh’s Let’s Dance, Mukta Arts’ Paying Guest ( both 19 June), Yashraj Films‘ New York (26 June), Sajid Nadiadwala‘s Kambakkht Ishq (3 July), Ramgopal Varma‘s Agyat (24 July), Imtiaz Ali directed Love Aajkal (31 July), Y.T Entertainment Ltd & Anjum Rizvi Film Co.’s Fast Forward (10 July), Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd’s Luck (31 July), UTV’s Kaminay and Sujoy Ghosh‘s Aladin (14 August). ASA Productions and Enterprises Pvt Ltd’s Phhir (7 August) Three- Love, Lies and Betrayal ( 3 September), All The Best- Fun Begins (16 October) and Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd’s Blue (16 October).

Would producers have to increase on the marketing spends for their films to beat the clutter? “No, spends would be normal as before. Promotional expenses are going to be the same. Where is the chance of spending extra bucks on promotion. In fact, given less of time between releases, costs are likely to come down by half,“ avers Ramanathan.

Several other producers agree that promotional costs could fall. Says the UTV source, “Promotional costs are going to go down and so will the spending on hoardings and TV promos. In fact, TV channels have seen a considerable drop in their Q1 results because of a drop of commercials. You could attribute this aspect to the downturn. Producers are not taking the six-week promo course anymore.”

Agrees producer Yash Patnaik, who will soon be releasing his film Kaalo: “The days of six-week promotion is a thing of the past. Let’s take the case of YRF’s New York. Given the fact that the film is releasing on 26 June, where do they get time to properly promote their film? No doubt it’s a good banner, but every film needs a promotion. Two to three week’s promotion is what producers are looking at.”

Will a minimum time suffice for a film’s promotion? “Why not! Take for example a film like Kambakkht Ishq that is releasing in the first week of July. They easily have four weeks to promote their film and that is the normal time one gets for promotional purpose,” avers Patnaik.

In the current situation, the exhibition of a film will also take a dip. “I feel that the maximum time that a film will run in theatres would be four weeks beyond which there would be no space. A lot of films would be waiting to see the day on the silver screen,” quips Patnaik.

Ramanathan disagrees: “If a film is doing well, why would it be pulled out of a multiplex. If other films are in line, multiplexes having many number of screens could divide a film’s exhibition by showing it on a screen for a limited number of shows."

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