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Cinema content producers still discovering audience taste

Executives split on whether trends are better or content.

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MUMBAI: The Indian movie industry is one of the richest in the world and its content has been gaining patrons worldwide. But producers still believe that the industry doesn’t have the pulse of audience preference.

The point was raised at the third edition of Indiantelevision.com’s ‘The Content Hub’ during a panel discussion on how new Hindi film producers are making their mark and what business models they are drawing up. The panel included Essel Vision (Zee Studios) CEO Shariq Patel, Viacom18 Studios chief operating officer Ajit Andhare, Alliance Media and Entertainment owner Sunil Doshi and Fox Star Studios India CEO Vijay Singh. Moderating the panel was film reviewer at Film Companion Suchitra Tyagi.

Singh said that though we do not have an absolute understanding, we are better informed than we were few years ago. "Let me just give you some facts. Theatrical in India was going single digit till last year, where it actually has its most record breaking year and the business has grown by 14 per cent. Correspondingly, even if you look at Hollywood, last year they have had their biggest theatrical year," he said.

However, Patel was of the view that the reason behind this is the constantly emerging trends. He shared that it is not possible to foresee or sight the changes in what the audience deems popular.

Reflecting similar thoughts was Andhare who said, “Trends and cinema are two terms which are not friends with each other, because the moment you try to say this is trend you will falter. You can safely say that yes content has to be taken more seriously, just the package film which used to a success few years ago may not work.”

He further added, “Also from a purely film business point of view, if you see a movie goer base, it is actually divided in three major markets, Hindi is just one, and the other two big bases are down south. So if you really want to address the entire consumer base for cinema in this country, you have to address all these three and from that stand point regional becomes extremely relevant.”

There is a great opportunity to be a content producer today. "There is a huge opportunity in OTT and I can tell you that in films there is equally large opportunity. What has happened in Hollywood over the last 10 years, because the contribution from outside America started going up. 10 years back international content contributed 30 per cent and today it contributes 70 per cent. That is the reason why studios are working on franchise films or the few films which have the ability to actually travel across the globe,” Singh concluded.

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