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Second film provides the key to a firm’s success

Second film provides the key to a firm’s success
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First Published: Fri, Aug 28 2009. 12 26 AM IST

There is a certain charm to the first film of a production company. Not acquisition, not financing, but just own production. So often, it’s this first film that gives an insight into the company’s thinking and focus. There is a sense of achievement within the team and an urge to beat the system and make a mark.
But it is often the second film that really decides the success or failure of a company. There are many examples of companies that did not have the courage to move to their second film and withered away. I am reminded of Applause Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, which produced the cult and award winning film Black. However, they got so embroiled in their fascination for Black that they were unable to make their next film as they kept searching for a film as big and famous as Black and ultimately had to close shop.
But on a brighter side, we have had a lot of instances where the second film provided the key to the success of a company. UTV Spotboy started with its first film, Aamir, which got average response at the box office. But the division did not let this cloud its vision and it went ahead, full steam, into its next film, Welcome to Sajjanpur, which was a bigger success and it followed it up with an even bigger one, Dev.D.
When People Pictures made its first film, Flavors, in 2004, it was clear that the company was focussed on mass entertainers. 99, its second film, only consolidated its thinking, with terrific success. The company’s next round of films include a gritty and edgy film meant for an international audience, a horror film and a sequel to 99.
Or take the case of the film, 1920, the first film by ASA Productions Inc., which got it all right by focussing more on the genre and content and not so much on the star cast. The company is now ready with its next film, Three–Love Lies Betrayal,?and two more films this year, which is a feat that even some of the bigger production companies will find difficult to equal. HandMade Plc. began its journey with a rather serious, Navarasa, directed by Santosh Sivan. But it soon followed this up with Mixed Doubles and Bheja Fry respectively, and is now involved in the sequel of Bheja Fry.
Judicious release: A wallpaper of the movie Sikandar. The movie has got above-average reviews.
This brings us to Sikandar, which, like the films mentioned above, is the first own production of BIG Pictures after a series of films which it acquired or distributed. This film was co-produced by Sudhir Mishra and directed by Piyush Jha, who was an interesting choice for the film because before this film, he had only handled comedies (Chalo America and King of Bollywood). Sikandar got above- average reviews, and despite a judicious release strategy of 130 prints and 250 screens release in India, had a disappointing opening at the cinemas. The film cost Rs7 crore including print and advertising (P&A), but will end up with the India distributor share of about Rs1 crore at best. The other rights will fetch another Rs1.5 crore, resulting in a loss of about Rs4.5 crore to BIG Pictures in the first cycle.
The swine flu certainly affected the business of Sikandar to an extent, as it did with Kaminey and Life Partner last week. It was an important first production for BIG Pictures and the film had a decent star cast and was actually shot on locations in the Kashmir valley. However,it was too serious a film to have appealed to all the audiences. It has been conclusively proved that the films that really do well in India are true blue entertainers. The second film of most production houses, have essentially been that, the entertainers, be it comedy, thriller or horror, despite the absence of a big star cast. We now, therefore await an entertainer from BIG Pictures as its next own production because they have the team and the resources to strike big.
Shadow, the second release of the week, was a much talked-about enterprise, thanks to the enthusiasm of its businessman-turned-producer-actor, Nasser Khan. It cost Rs9.5 crore, including P&A, and had an extremely wide release of 125 prints and 400 screens. Unfortunately, the film wound up with a distributor share of just Rs1 crore and will end up with losses to the tune of almost Rs6-8 crore after monetizing other rights.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, released by Paramount Films of India Ltd, is directed by Stephen Sommers, best known for also directing the first two films in The Mummy franchise. The film received mixed reviews but had a decent opening. It was released in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu versions with about 215 prints and in 240 screens across India. The first week closed at a distributor share of about Rs70 lakh and considering the drop from Monday, the film will end up with a share of about Rs1 crore at best. This is below expectations considering that it was a much-hyped release.
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past was a much delayed release. Its US release opened on 1 May and this has possibly taken a toll on the box office collections of the film in India. The film was released with 25 prints and in about 55 screens. The reviews were poor and so was the opening. The film will probably wind up with a distributor share of about Rs15-17 lakh at best in its first phase of release in Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Chennai and Mangalore and will probably wind up with a share of Rs20-22 lakh across its entire run.
The films releasing today are Daddy Cool, Yeh Mera India, Kisaan, Love Khichdi and Toss in Hindi, Quick Gun Murugun (English, Hindi and Tamil), Race to Witch Mountain (English and Hindi) and The Taking of Pelham 123 (English and Hindi). Phew!
Ashish Saksena is an executive with extensive experience in India’s entertainment sector and was previously CEO of PVR Pictures. His weekly column looks at the business side of Bollywood releases.
Respond to his columns at boxtruths@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Aug 28 2009. 12 26 AM IST