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Mirroring The Industry: 8 things to learn from the box office successes and failures of 2022

2022 was a year where every single person affiliated with the Hindi film industry failed in some way or the other. While some failed at judging the content of film, some failed at predicting the business of a film at the box office, some failed at identifying the right content for audience, some failed in interpreting the trailers that would exciting the audience, and some failed in totality at all levels. But as they say, the steepest falls often act as a learning curve to introspect and bounce back stronger.

Change in audience consumption pattern

One of the first learnings from 2022 is to accept the fact that the content consumption pattern of the audience has changed in the post pandemic world. What worked in the pre-pandemic times is not in the post pandemic world. The genre of mid-sized social drama/comedy has completely exhausted its theatrical value and the base has shifted to OTT. Of course, this is a phase and the habit of consuming this content on the big screen will be back again, but for now, the mid-sized social films, which in pre-pandemic world was called content cinema, has eroded for box office. The tides could change this year, if 3 to 4 films falling in the social drama space manage to leave a mark at the ticket window. But as of now, we can conclude that post the pandemic, the audience wants to see either entertaining or larger than life and relatable content, but not be preached by actors through their feature films. Preaching in the garb of entertainment and preaching with entertainment as a mere sub-track are two different ways of narrating a story, wherein the former might work, but the latter is a recipe of failure in today’s world.

 

 

The audience wants to see either entertaining or larger than life and relatable content, but not be preached by actors through their feature films in cinema halls

Himesh Mankad

 

Two cents on remakes

The second learning should be about remakes. While it’s all ethical and fine to remake films, but our industry needs to understand that the idea should always be to remake lesser-known films and more importantly, films which are not available in Hindi. The satellite and digital medium have played a big role in taking the Hindi dubbed content from the South to the common man, and hence, cut-copy-paste remake of a film already available in Hindi is bound to fail. While the filmmakers can take a germ of an idea and move ahead with a fresh screenplay even if it’s available in Hindi, remaking a film not available in Hindi keeps the subject away from large majority of audience.

 

 

The satellite and digital medium have played a big role in taking the Hindi dubbed content from the South to the common man, and hence, cut-copy-paste remake of a film already available in Hindi is bound to fail

Himesh Mankad

 

Good situational music is a must!

The relevance of music was almost dead in the last 2 years, but thankfully, films like Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, Gangubai and most importantly, Brahmastra, have reignited the conversation about the importance of music. Music has conventionally been one of the most important contributors to the opening of a feature film, and that has gone for a toss in the post pandemic era. Music composers are failing to come up with “good original songs” and resorting to the short cuts of “recreating songs”. While recreated numbers bring in some viewership on YouTube, one needs music that is in sync with the world of the film to spike excitement among the audience. Sure, recreations also help the film, but that’s when the recreated track is in sync with the world of characters. If not, the song comes across as an independent single and not a feature film number. Hopefully, good music will be back in our industry, which will spike excitement for films and play a role in the marketing campaigns to sustain for a month, rather than crashing post the theatrical trailer.

 

 

While recreated numbers bring in some viewership on YouTube, one needs music that is in sync with the world of the film to spike excitement among the audience

Himesh Mankad

 

Do we still believe in film reviews?

We live in an industry that still pays heed to the film reviews and social media trends. There are meetings of marketing and PR agencies to pay the media to get out those positive reviews. The biggest of the duds and the biggest of the hits have got same ratings from most of the critics. The culture of paid media has ruined the reputation and credibility of most in the industry, and this has pushed the social media audience to make a decision based on the reviews of people they know, what was conventionally known as word-of-mouth publicity. Rather than investing this money on creating a false bubble of positive reviews, it’s better if the same monies are given to the writers to churn out good content. To err is human, everyone makes mistakes and everyone is bound to have perspectives, but that perspective too needs to be aided with honest opinions. 2022 has cleared how good exciting films are never impacted by reviews, and eventually find their audience. Just that, the films need to have an organic positive chatter in the audience.

 

 

2022 has cleared how good exciting films are never impacted by reviews, and eventually find their audience. Just that, the films need to have an organic positive chatter in the audience.

Himesh Mankad

 

Honest filmmaking & not project making

The audience can smell honesty in a film – no matter how big or small it is. The concept of project making has vanished and we slowly need to transition towards bringing the stories we believe in to life, rather than just making films since the stars and directors have empty dates, and the satellite, digital players are ready to pay amounts which is enough to recover the budget and marketing spends. Honesty of making films reflect in every asset of the film.

First Impression is Last Impression

In the pre-pandemic world, the audience was forgiving and gave all the films a chance until the weekend. The biggest of the stars came with minimum guarantee of film clocking a certain number in its opening weekend but the margin of minimum guarantee has gone down by a big margin now. The stars will push the numbers to a certain level, but a good trailer is a must in today’s world for a film star to make the film open at pre-pandemic level. The audience has gone spoit for choices and a little ruthless on feature films. A film with bad trailer is written off even before the release, no matter what comes next. But a film with good trailer followed by one hit song often gives the film a platform to attract audiences to the big screen. Trailer has always been the most important asset of the film, but in the post pandemic world, it has become all the more important for a film trailer to leave a banging impact among the audience.

 

 

The biggest of the stars came with minimum guarantee of film clocking a certain number in its opening weekend but the margin of minimum guarantee has gone down by a big margin now.

Himesh Mankad

 

Right pricing for the right product

Right product needs right pricing. While the event films are not impacted by astronomical pricing as audience is willing to see them at any cost, the mid sized and small films warrant right pricing at the cinema halls. The audience will no longer spend Rs 300 and Rs 400 on a non-event film, and hence, the idea is to create a strategy where pricing can also be a selling point for a feature film side by side the trailer and music. The transition with regards to low prices attract audience would not happen overnight. It would sustained efforts from all producers for at-least 6 months to recultivate the cinema going habit among the audience for the non-event films. One can also go dynamic with pricing where the prices can shoot up by Sunday if content is accepted by the audience, but the opening day would need that added incentive of nominal pricing to attract the audience. The idea for small and mid level films should be to increase the footfalls, as that in turn would lead to faster spread of audience word of mouth. The idea should be to make cinema affordable again, rather than taking it towards a luxurious experience.

 

 

The transition with regards to low prices attract audience would not happen overnight. It would sustained efforts from all producers for at-least 6 months to recultivate the cinema going habit among the audience for the non-event films. 

Himesh Mankad

 

Is influencer push to content needed?

Finally, good content doesn’t need any media or influencer push. We are living in the world of social media where every lie gets busted in a span of 6 to 12 hours, when the collective judgement on a certain asset or product is out in the open. Right from trailers to music to film – good content will get good amount of appreciation from the audience, and an attempt to push substandard stuff will be identified by the social media as an image saving exercise. We are living in times where it’s difficult to create perception out of nothing, and hence, it’s best to let the content speak for itself. Of course, good content deserves appreciation from all ends, and that shall follow organically, as every cinema lover would want to support something that’s genuinely good.

Let’s hope, 2023 turns out to be a year that everyone remembers for decades to come, and the Hindi film industry gets back to the streak of 2019 and 2018 with over 20 successful films.

ALSO READ: Mirroring The Industry: Why is Bollywood failing; Has the industry lost conviction to back the right directors?


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