MUMBAI: Nobody could have foreseen this dramatic twist in the plot. Only in July, Bollywood was rejoicing as Indian Films (Studio 18) bought
satellite rights to Aamir Khan’s Ghajini for a very handsome Rs 22 crore. But today, prices of satellite rights have plunged to a third of what they were six months ago.
Back then, a trade insider notes, "there was buoyancy in the mood, with music and satellite rights proving to be a saviour for producers".
Jayantilal Gada, who heads the agency that acquires satellite rights for Zee’s entertainment channels, says, “Prices soared to such a high that Akshay Kumar’s Welcome and Singh Is Kinng were picked up for Rs 12 crore to Rs 16 crore each.
"Now, things are so bad that there’s a 66% slump in the prices of satellite rights. They’re down to 33% of what they were," says Gada. He adds that today, it’s difficult to pay even Rs 4 crore for satellite rights to an A-list star’s film, because the market situation is tight.
It seems as though Bollywood can’t talk about anything other than these trading doldrums, in which no entertainment channels are stepping up to acquire satellite rights. There’s little enthusiasm even for films like Phoonk, Dasvidaniya, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye and Dostana. There are reports that Yashraj Films, which was hoping for Rs 15 crore for satellite rights to Dostana, is being offered onethird the amount.
Ashok Ahuja, director, distribution and sales, Percept Picture Company, casts the slowdown in perspective, saying, "The correction process is seen on all fronts—real estate, the sensex, and entertainment. There’s a liquidity crunch. Hence all buying has come to a standstill."
The market buzz is that movies like Phoonk and Dasvidaniya are going for somewhere between Rs 30 lakh and Rs 50 lakh. However, Ahuja insists that in six months, the position will be corrected.
Ahuja, whose company got Rs 9 crore for satellite rights to Jannat last year, and Rs 5 crore for Khuda Ke Liye, says, “Buyers are being overcautious at this point. But within six months, the channels will be forced to pay decent prices again, because Bollywood films with A-List actors enjoy the best TRPs. Films like Dostana and Fashion will get a good price somewhere down the line." Gada, however, is not so optimistic.
He says, "Even Rs 4 crore is hard to come by, these days. I think the 33% price structure is what will stay."