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Business News/ Industry / Beyond blockbusters: Leveraging international festivals for theatrical success
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Beyond blockbusters: Leveraging international festivals for theatrical success

The move is significant considering that non-star driven films face challenges in attracting audiences to cinemas, as big-budget spectacles take the spotlight.

In recent weeks, Zee Studios’ Joram, Karan Johar’s Kill, and Aamir Khan-backed Laapata Ladies, among others, have announced theatrical releases after touring the international film festival circuit. (Photo: Twitter)Premium
In recent weeks, Zee Studios’ Joram, Karan Johar’s Kill, and Aamir Khan-backed Laapata Ladies, among others, have announced theatrical releases after touring the international film festival circuit. (Photo: Twitter)

NEW DELHI : New Delhi: Amid shifting dynamics in the film industry post-covid, content-driven movies, lacking big budgets or star power, are strategically leveraging international film festivals to bolster their marketing initiatives for theatrical releases in India. 

In recent weeks, Zee Studios’ Joram, Karan Johar’s Kill, and Aamir Khan-backed Laapata Ladies, among others, have announced theatrical releases after touring the international film festival circuit. This move is significant considering that non-star driven films face challenges in attracting audiences to cinemas, as big-budget spectacles take the spotlight.

“Releasing films theatrically post festive runs offers several advantages to both filmmakers and theatres. First, it allows these films to build a buzz and gain recognition through festival screenings, generating anticipation among people who may be eager to experience them on the big screen. Second, it caters to audiences looking for unique and diverse content beyond mainstream releases, thereby expanding the variety of offerings available in theatres," Devang Sampat, chief executive, Cinepolis India, said. 

Moreover, it provides an opportunity for theatres to attract niche audiences by showcasing exclusive and critically-acclaimed films with the trend aligning with the growing demand for independent cinema, Sampat added.

Industry experts said the marketing strategies for niche films often revolve around harnessing social and digital media, capitalising on festival premieres and initiating discussions around them. Moreover, the added allure often stems from critics' reviews and word-of-mouth endorsements.

Considering the niche and non-star nature of such films, traditional marketing initiatives like celebrity endorsements or extensive advertising campaigns may often yield limited results. Instead, targeted promotions on online platforms, engagement with independent cinema enthusiasts, and collaborations with influencers resonating with the film's themes are prevalent strategies.

Rahul Puri, managing director, Mukta Arts and Mukta A2 Cinemas, said a film's success at prestigious film festivals, and awards or nominations, establish credibility and attracts cinephiles interested in quality cinema. “Creating engaging and thought-provoking content, such as behind-the-scenes footage, director interviews, or insights into the filmmaking process, helps build a connection with the audience and generates interest in the film."

However, the practice of showcasing films at international festivals is not entirely new. Anurag Kashyap’s two-part drama Gangs of Wasseypur was screened at the 2012 Cannes Directors' Fortnight. The two instalments made 25.25 crore and 22.04 crore at the box office, respectively, in India. 

But now, this move is significant as few small-scale, non-star films have managed to attract audiences to cinemas, with many shifting primarily to OTT platforms. “There is a lot of conversation around small-scale films not working in theatres post-covid. But the fact that filmmakers are still trying to bring them to cinemas is a positive sign. This (theatrical release post a festival run) is a good marketing strategy if the publicity campaign has been mounted well and enough people know about the film, as a result," said Amit Sharma, managing director, Miraj Entertainment, which operates multiplex theatres.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lata Jha
Lata writes about the media and entertainment industry for Mint, focusing on everything from traditional film and TV to newer areas like video and audio streaming, including the business and regulatory aspects of both. She loves movies and spends a lot of her free time in theatres, which makes her job both fun and a bit of a challenge given that entertainment news often just talks about the glamorous side of things. Lata, on the other hand, tries to find and report on themes and trends in the entertainment world that most people don't notice, even though a lot of people in her country are really into movies. She’s a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.
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Published: 04 Mar 2024, 06:00 AM IST
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