You may have satiated your appetite for contemporary regional films by watching them in theatres, a few months after its release. Or you may have been forced to simply rent a DVD, as most regional movies do not get to see the face of a multiplex in your city. The simple reason being, these films cater to a very restricted market with a limited audience base. However, with the changing trends in the Indian film industry, nation-wide theatrical release for regional films now ensures a better reach for these films.
Devang Sampat, senior Vice President, marketing and programming, Cinemax India Ltd, feels that releasing a regional film on the same day nation-wide as in its home state helps as cities like Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai have a metropolitan mix of multilingual crowds. This translates to an increase in footfalls for regional films in the metros. “As far as collections are concerned, south Indian films have the highest contribution towards box office collections compared to Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi and Bangla films. South has a very strong market in terms of production budget, content and star cast,” informs Sampat.
Big budget films
With corporate funding, both production and marketing budgets for these films are also on the rise. The budget for Tamil and Telugu films are the highest in terms of regional films. For instance, the Kamal Hasan starrer Dasavataram that was made on an estimated budget of Rs 60 crore, spent a whopping Rs 15-20 crore on marketing. Experts concur that Dasavataram’s budget may seem substantially less when compared to a Hindi film that are made on budgets ranging between Rs 40 crore and Rs 100 crore but for a regional film, that spend is huge. Regional television channels help promoting these films too. A strategic tie up with a regional channel can help in focused marketing for the film.
According to a media planner, “Instead of buying bulk ad spots either on a general entertainment channel or a music channel, regional films can be promoted by advertising on the language specific regional television channel.”
G Ramprasad, Chief Executive Officer — South, Zee Networks Ltd says, “We have a diaspora of regional languages, which is spreading across the length, and breadth of the country. The regional film market is likely to grow, as it will soon experience the benefit of a contemporary environment. For a movie-crazy nation like India, language is rarely a barrier for a content-rich film.” The multiplex boom, which has created an outlet for entertainment and nation-wide releases of regional films on the same day as in their home state fuels the reach of these films. Regional films are not just banking on theatrical revenue but are also procuring their costs from home video, audio and satellite rights.
According to trade sources, for a multiplex like Cinemax, the contribution of regional cinema formed 2% of its total collections last year; Adlabs that is present across 54 cities pan India claims that 21% of its revenue is contributed by regional films. Tushar Dhingra, Chief Operating Officer, Adlabs Cinemas mentions, “Regional films are very audience-specific and need to be marketed in the right geographies. A Marathi film might not work in a city like Coimbatore and so it makes perfect business sense to release a film in a particular catchment area.”
Regional cinema may have also benefited from the existing government regulations such as the exemption of entertainment tax for regional films in states including Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu and compulsory screening of a minimum of 28 shows per multiplex in a year in cities like Mumbai. Cinemax organised a 50-day screening for the commercially successful Marathi film, Shwaas, that made its way to the Oscars last year. An increase in the number of shows also augmented the occupancy at the multiplex by 80%—85%. PVR cinemas hosts Malayalam film festivals and screens Malayalam and other regional films at prime time slots. Adlabs too screened as many as 40 shows of the Punjabi film Mera Pind — sometimes screening around four shows daily.
Films like Kuselan (Tamil), Dhoom Dhaam (Tamil) and Tingya (Marathi) saw increased footfalls at multiplexes due to the higher number of shows and prints circulated. Films like Mera Pind have been popular even in the overseas market.
According to Maneesh Mathur, Chief Operating Officer, P9 Integrated, “Primarily, marketing and the cost of the prints are the two major costs involved for regional films. A film has to do well in the specific region first for it to become a success nationally.” Marketing regional films may be tough as these have to compete with a plethora of Hindi films, but marketing and promotion of regional films is a necessary calculative risk that films have to undertake. “Not all Hollywood films undergo theatrical releases. International studios release films market-wise and prefer to wait and watch the audience response,” he adds.
Similarly, even in the Indian scenario, the number of prints circulated for a regional film may vary as per the region. The ratio of prints circulated for a Hindi film differs largely from that of a regional film. While nationwide there may be 1,400 to 1,500 prints circulated across the country for a Hindi film, a Bangla film may circulate a paltry of 60 to 80 prints only in West Bengal. Saurabh Varma, Chief Marketing Officer, Big Pictures avers, “Every film has its own marketing strategy. The distribution decision of a film depends on the merit of the film.”
With production houses namely UTV, Adlabs and Studio 18 entering the film industry, the system of production for regional films is getting streamlined resulting in a more organised format of revenue generation. “Ultimately, it is the quality of content that rules. Regional film should have the right thought and strategy to present it to the local audience before venturing to the national market,” mentions Varma.
6 months ago