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Streaming app audiences seem to love box office disasters like Manmarziyaan.
Streaming app audiences seem to love box office disasters like Manmarziyaan.

Flops find success online

  • With digital platforms that are designed for individual viewing, viewers are now able to decide individually when and what they want to watch

Critically acclaimed movies that flopped in cinemas have found a new lease of life on video streaming platforms that have pivoted Indian audiences from families to individuals.

While titles such as Luck By Chance, Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster Returns, Gori Tere Pyar Mein and I Am Kalam often find themselves in the list of ‘trending’ or popular offerings on Netflix, rival streaming platform Eros Now reports audiences also love box office disasters like Mukkabaaz and Manmarziyaan.

Meanwhile, critically acclaimed movies like Gone Kesh, One Day: Justice Delivered, remade arthouse classic Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai and Door Ke Darshan have outperformed their theatrical release success now that they are on ShemarooMe, the video streaming app.

“The whole premise of a theatrical release is to have something that caters to the whole family, that may want to go out on the weekend, possibly to watch a celebrity on the screen," said Ali Hussein, chief executive of Eros Now. For the same reason, traditionally a lot of genres like thrillers, for instance, have just never caught on in India.

Hussein said about 60% of people go to the theatre not because the film is good but because they want an outing. That restricts opportunities for niche genres and non-mainstream, experimental films often featuring relatively unknown faces.

With digital platforms that are designed for individual viewing, viewers are now able to decide individually when and what they want to watch.

“There are numerous Bollywood films that have gained popularity post the theatrical window, and we now witness this accelerated trend on new age OTT platforms, which are able to cater to individual preferences. Many films are suited for theatrical big-screen viewing, whereas several others may be suited for the small screen or home viewing," said Hiren Gada, chief executive officer, Shemaroo Entertainment. While theatrical success is a great measure to gauge receptiveness, smaller titles are often hit by many factors, including the availability of shows or competition from larger releases, Gada added. A film may take time to grow, by when it may be out of the theatre. Further, streaming services build algorithms based on individual tastes and throw up recommendations, helping the discovery of smaller titles.

Sanjeev Lamba, executive producer of Hungama Originals at Hungama Digital Media, said box office is always a limited measure of the success of a film, never contributing more than 60% of overall revenues for filmmakers with satellite television, DVDs, music and other streams bringing in the rest.

“Even earlier, a lot of films that failed at the box office scraped through with TV. The only difference is now TV has been taken over by streaming," Lamba said, referring to films like Andaz Apna Apna and The Shawshank Redemption that became popular in India much after their theatrical release.

“A film that was critically acclaimed but couldn’t work in theatres always has a chance to be discovered later. The same, however, doesn’t hold true for films that fail at box office and get bad reviews," Lamba said.

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