Indian cinema’s fate has shrunk to almost one week in most languages even for appreciated films.
The scenario of films picking up in second week and doing better than first week collections no longer exists! There are many reasons for it. To begin with, flood of new films releasing every week in all languages. Tamil cinema for example faces competition from Hollywood, Hindi, Telugu and new Tamil releases. When the audience have several options every week, they are not ready to give the chance to watch the older film. Availability of films in online through piracy and in official mode in four weeks is another reason. Nowadays, most films are available online through piracy on the same day or next day. Hence, a recent survey for Indian cinema tells that almost 40 per cent audience watch new films through pirated links. With such a huge proportion going away, theatre coming audience has shrunk. With OTT platforms Amazon Prime and Netflix offering films officially in 30 days of films release, if the audience miss to watch in theatres, they resort to watch in an OTT platform.
Though Tamil Nadu has reasonable ticket prices compared to other cities, yet from audience perspective the cost of viewing a film is high when they total ticket price with online booking charges, parking cost, cost of snacks etc. Hence, audience have become very choosy about watching films in theatres. If a film does not attract them in the first week of its release, there is no great excitement to watch it in second week, especially when it is available freely online. Along with many entertainment options (TV shows-Big Boss, Sports, TV premiere of films etc.) before audience, contribution from second week to life time collection for most films is expected to shrink further.
Is there any hope to revive this situation? It appears difficult as with too many films being made and with multiple options before audience, it is not going to be easy to sustain the interest until second week. The only opportunity is controlling piracy so that audience have no choice than coming to theatres, which may give some hope for second week collections. The other aspect to be taken care is removing the perception of high cost of viewing films. Variable ticket pricing, reducing the online charges, parking cost and cost of snacks may create interest among the movie going audience to visit theatres more and support films even in second and third weeks.
With the window to earn large revenue getting reduced to first week, along with giving a good content, it is important the producer and film’s crew to go all out to create excitement on the film among audience through innovative promotions, to bring audience to theatres. The situation is producers either recovered 70-80 per cent of their money in first week or lost it. Hard reality!
—Dr G Dhananjayan is a film producer, distributor and Founder-Director of BOFTA Film Institute.