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Business News/ Industry / Media/  Southern filmmakers embrace two-part franchise for big screen impact
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Southern filmmakers embrace two-part franchise for big screen impact

Producers of upcoming South Indian films like Salaar and Devara are shooting both segments in a single schedule to cut costs and enhance brand recall value for the second instalment.

Allu Arjun’s Pushpa, initially announced as a two-part franchise, is currently filming its second part after the success of the first. Premium
Allu Arjun’s Pushpa, initially announced as a two-part franchise, is currently filming its second part after the success of the first.

New Delhi: South Indian film-makers, especially from Telugu and Tamil industries, are increasingly adopting a strategy to announce films as two-part franchises, and are planning staggered releases even before the first part hits the screens.

The trend, inspired by the success of films such as Baahubali, KGF and Pushpa, is now being embraced by producers for their upcoming movies such as Prabhas’ Salaar and Kalki, and Jr NTR’s Devara. It involves shooting both segments in a single, yet extended, schedule to cut cost. Instead of extensive editing, the primary focus is on building a brand to enhance a film’s recall value, particularly for the second instalment.

However, trade experts cautioned that the success of this strategy depends on the reception of the first part of the film and, if it fails to resonate with audiences, there’s a risk that the strategy could backfire.

“Since the success of Baahubali, everyone wants to build a brand and ensure big openings. Also, ending the first part with some sort of a cliffhanger works big time," independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai said. In 2015, the dubbed Hindi version of the first part of the Baahubali franchise garnered 5.15 crore on its opening day and went on to earn 118.7 crore at the box office.

The second part, released in 2017, opened at 41 crore and clocked 510. 99 crore in lifetime earnings.

The strategy has resonated with audiences at a time hardcore commercial cinema with an adequate doze of action and emotion, is hard to come by, and big stars are failing to draw people to theatres, Pillai said.

Besides, there are cost benefits when two parts of a movie are shot without a break, even though production expenses are substantial and lead actors may also command hefty fees. “It’s like shooting two films at the cost of one," he said.

Allu Arjun’s Pushpa stands out as an exception; it was initially announced as a two-part franchise but is presently filming its second instalment following the success of the first part.

On the other hand, Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan has reaped benefits by completing the two parts within a budget of 175 crore, despite its period setting and an ensemble cast.

Mukesh Mehta of E4 Entertainment, a Malayalam film production and distribution firm, said announcing a two-part franchise in advance also helps negotiate better deals for the sale of satellite and digital rights. “A higher amount is justified when another part is in the works and essentially the idea is to shoot a lot more footage than is required for one film and simply use it for the second so that continuity is maintained," Mehta said.

The strategy, however, definitely, comes with its set of challenges. Not only is significant planning and prep required before extensive shooting, a lot more time is needed from artistes who may ask for higher remuneration. Only if the first film works will there be any chances of the second finding acceptance.

Usually spanning multiple languages, release of films like this is wide and budgets can shoot up to Rs. 300-400 crore. “Rather than editing around 300 minutes of footage, this is a smart way of churning out two IPs. Producers are usually safe because digital and other rights are pre-sold," film producer, trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar said.

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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: 21 Nov 2023, 11:26 PM IST
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