As the film industry grapples with dwindling box office collections with more and more consumers moving to video streaming platforms, industry stakeholders have stressed the need to create “impactful content” to bring audiences back to the cinemas. Speaking at a session on the subject at the Ficci Frames conference here, they also pitched for reducing movie ticket prices, besides creating a new model around release of films in theatres.
Footfalls in theatres have definitely declined, Ajit Andhare, COO, Viacom18 Motion Pictures, said. “For example, If today, a Salman Khan-starrer like Tiger Zinda Hai generated footfall of 3.5 crore, in 1994, his film Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam had a footfall of 7 crore. About half of the audience base now watches films across platforms, including TV and on streaming platforms,” he said.
Dharma Productions CEO Apoorva Mehta said one of the ways to remedy the current situation and salvage the film industry is to create content which is not easily available on any other platform like TV or OTT platforms. “There is a disconnect between content and viewers. The urban audiences who are exposed to international content don’t necessarily want to watch similar India movies, while viewers in tier 2 and 3 cities want to watch different kind of films. Hence, films need to evolve in storytelling,” Mehta said.
Vikram Malhotra, founder and CEO, Abundantia Entertainment, is of the view that consumers are looking for value-for-money experience. “If the monthly subscription of Netflix is equivalent to the price of two tickets of one film, a viewer would opt for the former. As the industry replaces single screens with multiplexes and the cost of ticket rises, one can expect 20% more decline in footfalls,” Malhotra added.
“The gap between a theatrical release and when a film is aired on TV followed by it being telecast on an OTT platform has reduced tremendously. This is also a reason why today a viewer is ready to wait for a film to be aired to TV. The film industry needs to re-work on this process, by creating tighter norms and increasing the time gap,” said Vivek Krishnani, MD, Sony Pictures.
Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios, said, as the contribution of Hollywood movies increase in box office collections, Indian film production companies need to focus on creating successful franchise-based films. “Marvel Studios in the West serves as an example on how to make popular franchise lead sequels like Iron Man, The Avengers, etc. We need to create similar popular sequels to get viewers back in theatres,” Singh added.
Distributors, too, concur with the view that filmmakers should create market-specific content. “Instead of making a film for pan-India release, filmmakers need to make market-specific content which can released in tier 1 and 2 cities to generate maximum revenues,” said Akshay Rathie, director, Vidharbha Exhibitors.