Blockbuster, Super-Hit, Hit, Average – All this is Flop!

Entertainment: the magical word that has many forms. Something which is soothing to one’s senses can be aptly considered as entertainment. For some, entertainment is found in arts; for someone else, it is found in sports; for yet others, it could be established by reading a novel; but for most, the word ‘Entertainment’ is definitely synonymous to ‘Movies’. These days’ movies/films/cinemas/pictures/flicks/premiers/videos cover a wide range of genres which include Sci-Fis, Thrillers, Actions, Period-dramas, Romance, Comedies, Musicals, Religious-dramas, etc. or a mixture of the former ones. The population around the world is crazy about movies as they are an amalgamation of various other forms of entertainment, available in a single wholesome package! For the art lovers, the exuberant sets are a delight; for the sports fanatics and technology freaks, movies are a fantasy too; for people liking music, songs and background music are aptly fitted in; every movie serves a person as per one’s palate. Either consider peer-to-peer or going to a theatre; you either have the cash to buy beer or you don’t have it to even buy a bottle of mineral water; you either scare your child with Hollow-Man’s name or scare it with a name like Gabbar – movies are an integral part of every 21st century citizen.

India’s love for cinema isn’t different from any other demography’s tastes. On completing 100 years of entertaining the audience, apart from Hollywood, today, one has a plethora of options to choose from – Bollywood (Hindi, Hinglish), Tollywood (Telugu, Bengali), Mollywood (Malayalam), Kollywood (Tamil), Sandalwood (Kannada) and the nameless section (Marathi, Punjabi, Gujarati). Here, a movie could make such an impact that the film stars are looked upon as divine beings. Fans can be as simple as Oh!-I-Need-Your-Autograph-Please fan or can be as complex as Oh!-I-Can-Walk-Barefooted-11-Kms-To-Siddhi_Vinayak’s-Temple-To-Pray-For-Your-Film’s-Success fan. People from all over the nation envy these celebrities so much that they just cannot get enough of them and would want to keep seeing more and more of their works, every now and then. Within a movie premier, fashion freaks update themselves with the latest trend; photographers buy a ticket to see the best angle caught; dancers learn a new move and singers – a new song; budding video editors would know how to use new perspectives to make things look nicer, and so on. Movies at India are such a vital part, wherein once a star is found to garner the mullahs of his audience, he/she might just end up getting a seat at either of the Sabhas at New Delhi. Keeping the craziness aside, one should also know that the Bollywood industry is very important to the country’s economics. There are so many jobs at stake and hence, at the end of the day, how much money has a film grossed is what the analysts ponder on!

There are numerous people, who tag themselves as trade analysts, that keep the audience and the movie industry updated about the box-office collections. Based on the amount of percentages earned, over the actual investment including profits, a movie could fall under any one of the following categories –
In addition to this, the movie-analysts would also be concerned about the paid-preview’s collections, the first day’s and the first weekend’s collections, the advance booking’s earnings, and a recent addition to this list – the fastest 100 crore grosser. From the audience’s perspective, do these numbers actually matter? Considering all the rights-selling gains, even a stupid movie like a Sajid Khan venture could cross the ‘Hit’ barrier. Sadly, the money collected by a film is the only criteria used in declaring it so.

Talking about how a movie earns its profits – Whenever a movie release is anticipated, people wanting to relax and spend some time out with their dear ones make weekend plans which leads to advance bookings. Depending on the enthusiasm the movie trailer and songs have created, there is some sort of craving or pull towards the theaters. Based on the buzz induced by fake critics and paid analysts, bookings can be influenced too. Considering a Friday release, the first three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) is the only time frame where seats are sold like hot cakes. In case of a Khan movie, and even some time, for an Akshay or Ranbir flick, the bookings could extend beyond the first weekend. Lasting for a weekend at a theater is more than enough for the movie and if it does extremely well, only then its name is found in the ‘Now Showing’ section for more than a week or so. Booking tickets may be alright, but only when the audience watches the show that they realize their mistake. By then, the movie would have already raked in huge amounts of cash and declared itself a hit. All of this is too difficult to digest, but is in fact the saddest part for someone who views a movie as a piece of art than a money investment option.

Today, the earnings are the only factor that make or break a movie’s success. Every producer would want some amount of profit to be available for his deposits, else the market would always show him other ways of getting an interest for his dollars than capitalizing on a film. There are several holes through which a producer’s money sieves into the ‘Movie-colander’. The lead male actors are the ones that rake in most of the money. Next in line are the directors and the lady leads. The music directors, the singers and the lyricists come next. Based on their previous delivered hits, the price tags of the former collective list varies and sometimes could create a deep trench too, in the producers’ pockets. Others in row would be the actors playing the sides, the fashion or art houses that are responsible for the costumes and the elaborate sets, dance troupes, doubles, junior artists, set assistants, logistics and facilities, etc. In short, a movies’ blanket has to keep hundreds of bodies warm.

In order to serve all the people involved in the making of a movie, every producer has to be backed by an intellectual who is well-studied and is knowledgeable about the current market trends. Even before the movie is released, the producer sells his creation to the satellite channels, which would air the movie to the idiot-box viewers, to the DVD makers and the music packers. Above all, the producer has to find a media distributor who would distribute the movie to the cinema halls, within the country as well as at overseas. With this entire rights-selling spree, the producer would have already earned a lot more than what he might have financed. For a movie of any one of the top three Khans, the producer would have already got the 1:1 ratio of his market investment, pre-release. Apart from the rights, the actual earning of any film piece, at any point in time, would include the money that it has collected at the box-office. Pre Y2K, this used to be the only way that a producer could think of getting a RoI. Considering the huge competition that every production house is involved in, a noticeable trend can be seen of dividing the week’s collection. A special preview (a.k.a. paid-preview) of the movie is held, just before the day of its actual release, where tickets are priced a bit higher. If the paid-previews are star-studded, then the ticket rates are doubled or tripled too. So, how much a movie earns is what matters and there are thousands of ways in which it is made possible. Nevertheless, these days, any tom-dick-&-harry movie is seen to be crossing a 100 crore mark and going forward, this seems to be the only factor to put a movie on the Wall of Fame!

To achieve the 100’s mark, the movie business creates an opportunity for the people who want to make a career with marketing. For the T.V.’s audience, depending on the age and taste, the marketing team books slots into music channels for trailers and songs, to capture the young and the youth; for the women and others, soap operas have special episodes with idiotic-linked entries from the movie’s cast. They are found performing a ‘garbha’ with the Tarak Mehta cast, or lecturing on life to Akshara, Anandi, Archana, Tapasya, etc. or maybe even seen giving that fake laugh on comedy stand-ups. Reality T.V. shows make full use of movie promotions by including stupid enactments or songs and even make the participants dance to the tunes of the special guests. To appease the tech savvy, websites and special pages haunt through blinkers and music or trailers’ launches are done on YouTube channels or on social media pages. In case the actors are brand ambassadors, the brand would feature their trailer too, entwined with the brand ad itself. Items in the market are clubbed with free gifts depicting something related to that movie. Cinema halls, public places, restaurants or roads near the colleges are filled with movie hoardings or franchises. Special souvenirs like cups, hats, shirts, key-chains, accessories or shoes are produced, that could be sold in malls and markets to kids and youngsters, to create that extra vibe required for the movie. Marketeers and producers do not leave any bit in grabbing eye balls toward the theatres. When the production team spends so much in promoting a video, it is legitimate of them in expecting an equivalent, or even more, in return.

Apart from the earnings, there are some appropriate ways in which one could judge a film’s quality. A good storyline with apt and befitting characters, who could portray the actual sense of the story, is one aspect. The way the characters’ look is depicted, well-written dialogues and the expressions are the second aspect. The other important aspects are how well the movie is benefiting from the locations and sets and also on how well is the music integrated into the story. Todays’ guild of producers and directors are just not concentrating on the points above and have nothing in mind than thoughts about how it would fare at the box-office. The perspective should be that – if I can tell a story well and pluck a chord with the audience, money will keep flowing. But the makers believe in nothing but commercializing the movie – Include cocky songs, make a barely dressed girl dance to it (not that I don’t like them :P) and fit it anywhere in the movie; have no-brainer punch lines; have extravagant sets or shoot outside the country and so on. Like that Sardar is to Lady Italy, directors are to the producers; hence they are just concerned in helping the money-provider to get a profitable return for their investment and are least concerned if the things that they are squeezing into the camera are actually required for the film’s storyline.

If the director has a brilliant project that he would want a definite audience to view, it is tacit that he markets the movie and make the audience aware. In that case, the director has to definitely focus on marketing, but at the same hand, during the initial phase, make the movie up to mark for which the audience would be attracted to the movie halls, by default. The audience would then appreciate the different aspects of the project – the way the camera captures the feelings; the angles, the locations – cinematography; the way the music is fused into the video, during the songs as well as in the background; the lighting, the sets, the views; and most important of all – the story line, the cast and their acting. Collectively, these would make a movie a blockbuster, a hit or a super hit and then, all would not go flop!

The Blabberer, Ally 🙂


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