'Ra.One is the first global Hindi film release'

Updated: Oct 26 2011, 08:58am hrs
It co-produced/distributed three of the years top hits till now, Ready, Murder 2 and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, and Eros International Media has films like Ra.One (releasing today), Rockstar and Desi Boyz on its slate. As it plans to release Ra.One in 3,500 screens in India alone and 1,200 screens overseas including new territories like Korea and Germany, we spoke to MD Sunil Lulla and CFO Kamal Jain on what it did to mitigate the risks surrounding a R150-odd crore movie. Excerpts:

With Indian audiences not yet warming up to domestic sci-fi thrillers, what makes you confident of SRKs Ra.One

This film is a complete family entertainer. It has catchy songs. Its a story about a father-son relationship, its an SRK magnum opus and its truly the first global Hindi film release.

So, the film is getting the widest possible release

Yes, we are releasing it in 3,500 screens in India itself and in 1,100-1,200 screens overseas. Of these, the film will be launched in 500 3D screens internationally. Since Shah Rukh Khan is a big draw in countries like Germany, the Middle East and other South Asian countries, it has opened up the film to many new territories. For example, we will be releasing Ra.One in 250 screens in Korea with subtitles. The earlier biggest release overseas was My Name is Khan, which was launched in 400 screens.

How much of the cost of production approximately has already been recovered

A large portion has already been recovered, through satellite, music, digital, overseas rights and through brand tie-ups. We have earned R52 crore through brand tie-ups alone as 25 brands have lent their support to the film. The marketing spend of the film is huge but a lot has been subsidised by brands. The extent of monetising the film has been maximum, stretching from satellite to merchandising to gaming.

How has the year been for Eros

The year has been good for the film industry, and we have benefited as well. Films like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Murder 2, Chalo Dilli and Yamla, Pagla, Deewana (international rights) did well for us and we have a strong line-up ahead.

How will you comfortably get return on investment

We will recover our investments over eight to ten films in 3D.

You co-produce a lot of films, is that the business model you have adopted

Normally, at Eros, we do several co-productions. In fact, 50-60% of our slate (usually15 films comprising big budget, medium and small) are co-productions, 30% acquisitions and only 10% our own productions. This way, we can get scale and cut down risks. Co-production suits us best, because it is a flexible, steady model.

Are you happy with the way films are being monetised now How can the industry improve on it

The digital play is going to be huge. Though the box office is growing, because of the explosion of screens, other sources of revenue are also growing and expanding. Already, only 40% of revenues come from the box office, 30% from satellite, 20% from overseas and 10% from digital, which is growing phenomenally. Now, every film is collecting more at the box office and widespread release is possible with digital distribution. 3D pricing is higher so tickets will get higher returns.

Satellite and cable rights are also growing

Lets put it this way, now we are not surprised at hearing of a films satellite rights being sold for R40 crore!

What is the growth the Hindi film industry is looking at in the next five years

The Hindi film industry is growing at a rapid pace, and the consumer is demanding the change. In fact, India will see tremendous growth in this space in the next five years, akin to what Hollywood saw in the last two decades. The number of theatres is growing, the quality of cinema is improving and a 12-14% growth annually is expected.