The whole movie acquisition game has gone for a toss

MUMBAI: In recent times, quite a few International as well as regional films have been dubbed into Hindi to wide commercial acclaim. Why are the channels acquiring the rights to air these foreign films or south Indian films, dub in Hindi and air on their channels at primetime? What might be the reason behind it?


Bollywood blockbusters have become too expensive. These films revolve around just the top four to five male actors. Plus, a Bollywood blockbuster comes with a baggage. Bollywood producers have become aggregators. When they sell a blockbuster film, four to five smaller-budget films come in the package.


For example, when Karan Johar sells television rights for his blockbuster, he sells it as a package along with a few of the films made under his banner by other directors. The smaller-budget films make no commercial sense for television channels.


When Sony MAX bought the television rights for Dhoom 3, reportedly paying a very high price, the movie channel had to buy yet-to-be-released film like Bewakoofiyaan as part of the package.


Also, the recall value of bollywood blockbusters now is low. A bollywood blockbuster which was aired on a television channel for the second time, the viewership rating was more than 75 per cent lower than the ratings garnered by the film at its television premier in October 2013.


The big budget films being made now make their money in the first and second weekends. The films do not qualify for a second viewing.


The economics of acquiring bollywood blockbusters first drove movie channels to dubbing English and south Indian languages films, largely action movies, in Hindi.


Sony MAX, Senior Vice President and Business Head, Neeraj Vyas, has an interesting take on the matter. He says, “it is because acquisition of Hindi films has become so expensive. It is virtually impossible to keep buying those films. Everybody everybody has a limited budget. There is a cost that you incur for renewing your existing library. So there is very little money to keep buying those films.”


“The whole movie acquisition game has gone for a toss,” says Vyas.


Even the Hollywood action blockbusters do not come cheap. These films too are packaged by the studios along with older movies. Aggregation happens even when television rights are sold for Hollywood movies. And, a substantial part of the movies acquired along with blockbusters add to the worthless movie library.


In an interesting turn of events, the south Indian films being dubbed into Hindi are gaining more traction as compared the international films.


Disney India Director, Programming, Movie Channels, Kunal Mukherjee says Disney has witnessed a preference towards regional films, specifically south Indian language films dubbed in Hindi. “While certain international titles do work wonderfully with the audiences, south Indian films, if taken average, certainly work better.”


Do the channels tend to follow a particular timeslot, for example, airing Chinese films dubbed in Hindi on weekends and south Indian films dubbed in Hindi on weekdays? On that Mukherjee states, “We understand our audiences and there is no specific viewing pattern that is followed for dubbed movies. UTV Action brings in content as per the audience preferences and entertains them with movies in the manner and language that is relevant to them.”


What is the selection process of the films? “We are constantly listening to our viewers’ choices and for UTV Action, we consider the star cast of the movie along with the number of action scenes and the date of release for our library.”


Regarding the audience demographic being aimed at, Mukherjee stated that, UTV Action is a movie channel which entertains audiences across all age groups with content which is acquired through various partners  and associates who own the intellectual properties of the film.


Sony MAX’s Vyas says, “Almost 25-30 per cent of everybody’s FPC in a week comprises of south Indian dubs. South Indian dubs are very integral reality of composition of every Hindi movie channel. Those guys completely enjoy south Indian cinema.”


Another up and coming movie channel &Pictures also has some exciting projects lined up. The channel is launching ‘Hollywood Sundays’ at 12:00 pm, starting 2 March, 2014, to bring the Asli Desi flavour.

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