Why it’s risky to recreate classics like ‘Terminator 2’
New Delhi: James Cameron’s iconic science fiction action film Terminator 2: Judgment Day, which re-released in 3D in India last Friday, hasn’t really managed to live up to its great legacy.
The film, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton and Robert Patrick, has made around Rs3-5 crore in gross domestic box office collections over its opening weekend across the country, according to film trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar.
“There was hardly any buzz for the film,” Johar said. “When it comes to classic movies, there really has to be something thirst-quenching about the new format. Otherwise people complain.”
With special effects in cinema having reached their peak lately, the 3D format in Terminator 2 isn’t much to write home about, critics said. The 1991 classic hasn’t earned the best reviews or box office collections worldwide either. The $205 million domestic earnings of the film in the US are comparable to the lukewarm response it has received in India.
“The fact that this is a James Cameron film and he was personally looking after the 3D production and giving interviews in the trade led us (people in the trade) to believe we should back it,” said Yusuf Shaikh, all-India distributor of Terminator 2.
Shaikh believes challenges for films like Terminator 2 arise firstly from the fact that the cast and crew are based in the US and therefore not personally available for promotions in markets like India. Then, the recovery plan also only allows about Rs1 crore for marketing and publicity. Other challenges arise from the sole dependence on theatrical revenue since a 3D film does not hold satellite television value.
“You only have a two-minute trailer and some brand tie-ups to bank on. Plus, the general assumption in the trade is you can’t really expect a film to pick up unless it can sell a Rs500 ticket,” Shaikh said, referring to a film’s viability that is proven only when it can sell the standard multiplex ticket.
Shaikh, however, is pinning hopes on the Tamil and Telugu dubbed versions of the film that should help them break regional barriers and the fact that despite being a 3D Hollywood flick, they have been able to reach out to non-DCI (digital cinema initiatives) theatres too. Out of the 504 Indian screens the film has been released in, 50% are non-DCI-compliant. DCI is a joint venture of several film studios, including Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros, to set up a common set of requirements that ensure a high and uniform standard of digital cinema viewing.
While the rest of the world sticks to DCI because of their dependence on Hollywood, India remains a mix of DCI and non-DCI screens mainly because of its home-grown content that surpasses everything else in popularity.
Moreover, the nostalgia value for re-created classic films is also not very high anymore. In 2014, filmmaker Ketan Mehta’s company Maya Digital had converted Ramesh Sippy’s cult classic Sholay into 3D, while K. Asif’s historical drama Mughal-e-Azam (1960) and Dilip Kumar’s romantic drama Naya Daur (1957) were remastered and coloured for a re-release in 2004 and 2007, respectively. All three films managed unimpressive box office returns.
“The original films are now available on so many platforms so easily that there has to be something that really stands out in the remastered version,” Johar said, referring to the frequent airings of the films on television and their most recent accessibility on video-on-demand services online. “The risk though does not lie in how much they make but in ensuring that the brand is able to live on.”
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