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Business News/ Industry / Media/  Serial box office disasters prompt Bollywood to rework strategies

NEW DELHI : A slew of big-budget failures at the box office has forced the Hindi film industry to revamp its production and marketing strategies to regain viewership.

Budgets of titles like Bade Miyan Chote Miyan featuring Akshay Kumar, or Tiger Shroff-starrer Ganapath and Screw Dheela have been cut in recent weeks and the cast was asked to take a cut in remuneration, said multiple people familiar with the developments.

Filmmakers are also working on modifying scripts for a winning formula. Marketing campaigns, meanwhile, are being curtailed to avoid controversies that arise from multiple media interactions, the people said.

“A few projects have been kept on hold to realign strategies. There is a lot happening in terms of going through scripts to determine whether a particular project would work in the current scenario," said Jinesh Shah, head of originals at Roy Kapur Films.

“Studios are now strategizing and reorienting themselves to films that they would want to do for theatrical releases, and those that they would want to go for direct OTT release. They are fine-tuning content and deciding internally which distribution platform will best suit their movies," Shah said.

Pooja Entertainment, the producers of Bade Miyan Chote Miyan and Ganapth, as well as Dharma Productions, which is producing Screw Dheela, did not respond to Mint’s queries.

A senior executive at a major studio, seeking anonymity, said in the last 10 months major lessons were learnt by Hindi filmmakers, after titles such as Laal Singh Chaddha, Shamshera and Samrat Prithviraj was rejected by the audience. “Greenlighting projects has become a challenge, and there is a lot of conscious effort being made to find out how much one should pay the actors because everyone is talking of reducing expenses," the executive said.

Individual producers are also shying away from paying the disproportionately high rates of 2019 to actors and opting for alternatives if any star does not agree to a reduction in charges, the executive added.

Amita Madhvani, founder and business head at Ram Madhavni Films, known for titles like Neerja and Dhamaka, said producers need to understand the scalability and viability of a budget.

“Valuing your effort-to-effect ratio is what will make a good project shine. Your stories need to reach mass audiences for products to be seen. It is what we as creators, studios and platforms need—reachability and relatability," she added.

To be sure, filmmakers are starting to realize that marketing expenses add around 20% to overall production budgets, and includes many activities that can be avoided.

“The pandemic has changed the dynamics of film marketing forever and, even now, many producers are not willing to go back to the multi-city tours of the yore. They realize they need to create a splash on social media and other online spaces. So, innovative digital strategies,such as pre-and post-shoot trivia, among others, are being worked on," Anand Pandit, a film producer, said. “Marketing has also become far more personalized after the pandemic, and less generic," he added.

Industry experts said wooing audiences to cinemas is far more hard than three years ago, and while a eight-week window between theatrical and digital premiere was a almost a given before covid-19, now audiences are typically waiting for films to be released on streaming platforms sooner, and possibly, for free. “There is an urgent need to register the point around the eight-week window through publicity," said a film producer requesting anonymity.

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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Updated: 24 Sep 2022, 05:47 AM IST
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