multiplexes to films such as Bheja Fry encouraged producers. “At UTV, we’ve done Udaan, Aamir and Paan Singh Tomar, among several others, where we backed strong scripts and used marketing to generate curiosity that initially brought in the audience. We would open small but word-of-mouth would help the film grow bigger over the weeks following its release,” says Verma.
“But every film cannot release in 2,500 screens—that is something only the big stars bring in, such as the Khans, Hrithik Roshan and now Ranbir Kapoor, among others. For other films that include a studio's yearly slate, we come up with plans that help us maximise our gains without compromising on a film’s run,” says Vivek Krishnani, head, distribution-marketing-syndication, Fox Star Studios.
So apart from getting studios to device individual distribution strategies for films, this also made them relook at the marketing of a film—something that was a mere formality earlier but is today often the make-or-break factor for a film. “Today, with so many awaited films releasing week after week—some Fridays see multiple releases—and jostling for audience attention, their shelf life has gone down from several weeks to the opening weekend,” points out Gianchandani.
Verma adds that, in addition, they are racing against the growing home video and satellite landscapes. “The threat of piracy is very high too with the Internet increasing that risk. All it takes is for one pirated copy to pop up anywhere across the world. In such a scenario, distributors aim for as wide a release as possible so that maximum revenue can be generated over the weekend,” explains Verma.
In the current scenario, therefore, big players, such as Reliance Big Pictures and Disney UTV, largely have their own offices across India as they also produce and distribute regional films. This helps them develop a relationship with exhibitors and also get grassroots level feedback regarding the business. In certain territories, where they may not yet have established as strong a base, they may partner with top distributors. Several other companies, such as Fox Star, PVR and Eros, too, are working towards the same but usually work with respective distributors from various territories as associates and follow a revenue-sharing model. “On one hand, distributing the film we produce helps cut the risks and on the other, it gives us thrice the amount of profit as compared to what we would earn if a middleman were involved,” explains Acharya.