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Business News/ Industry / Media/  Content-driven foreign films fail to excite as pricey tickets, OTT hurt
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Content-driven foreign films fail to excite as pricey tickets, OTT hurt

Ridley Scott’s Napoleon and Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, are among the recent international titles that, despite favourable reviews, failed to excite cinegoers in the country.

Trade experts say that, pre-covid, a Scorsese film like Killers of the Flower Moon could have easily made ₹10-20 crore even with a limited release in the top metros. Now, however, it has ended its theatrical run at ₹5 crore.Premium
Trade experts say that, pre-covid, a Scorsese film like Killers of the Flower Moon could have easily made 10-20 crore even with a limited release in the top metros. Now, however, it has ended its theatrical run at 5 crore.

New Delhi: Foreign language films, including those in English, that do not boast grand special effects, action, or popular faces, and are mostly content-driven dramas, are yet to see a resurgence at the Indian box office post covid.

Ridley Scott’s Napoleon and Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, are among the recent international titles that, despite favourable reviews, failed to excite cinegoers in the country. Theatre owners rue that the urban, upmarket audience base that would flock to these films before covid, has completely moved to OTT, and studios have stopped making enough efforts to market the movies for release in India, limiting theatre count to 20 or 30 in the top metros.

“While there are die-hard fans of the genre who still flock to cinemas, a majority of the audience knows that these films are suitable for OTT viewing and will be available on streaming platforms soon. In pre-covid times, however, there was some possibility of these titles breaking out theatrically, based on word-of-mouth," Rahul Puri, managing director, Mukta Arts and Mukta A2 Cinemas, said.

Trade experts say that, pre-covid, a Scorsese film like Killers of the Flower Moon could have easily made 10-20 crore even with a limited release in the top metros. Now, however, it has ended its theatrical run at 5 crore.

Independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai said the discovery of multiple options on OTT has been accompanied by rising ticket prices in multiplexes for such films.

Multiplexes, on the other hand, contend that tickets need to be priced higher to make up for the limited screen count and release strategy. Yet, ticket prices in excess of 700 for such films, accompanied by screenings only in premium formats such as IMAX in many cases, make the expense seem futile.

Further, Hindi movie business has seen a significant recovery of late, with big-budget star vehicles such as Animal screening alongside these niche titles.

To be sure, some industry experts are still optimistic about the performance of the genre. Sanjeev Kumar Bijli, executive director, PVR Inox Ltd, said that OTT platforms and social media have actually made the world a smaller place, helping audiences discover international titles through the power of subtitles and dubbing.

Bijli pointed to small-scale Hollywood films such as The Nun II ( 21 crore) and Meg 2: The Trench ( 9.24 crore) that found a draw in India this year.

A major chunk of viewership for these films is from metro cities, Ashish Saksena, chief operating officer, cinemas, BookMyShow, said. “However, many tier-II cities such as Patna, Nagpur, Indore, and Surat are showing encouraging signs of interest and adoption, Saksena said. Tier-III towns may seem untouched, but looking at the increasing consumption, this may be a short-term phenomenon and this style of content consumption could pick up pace in coming years, he said.

There has been a drastic shift in consumer preferences post covid, he added, and the increased consumption of OTT has allowed for the uptake of foreign language series and movies, including Korean dramas and anime hits, among others. “This trend remains on a positive growth trajectory as Indian audiences today are looking for films with compelling narratives, well-developed characters and thought-provoking themes," Saksena said.

In any case, such films don’t need huge marketing spends, trade experts say, as their target audience is clued in and follows international trends closely. That said, exorbitant ticket pricing can play spoilsport, especially when the films are pitted against mainstream local-language offerings.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lata Jha
Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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Published: 10 Dec 2023, 10:09 PM IST
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