The current dip in box-office fortunes is forcing filmmakers to hedge their bets on sequels. Can the franchise card deliver returns?
Which filmmaker doesn’t want their film to make big bucks at the ticket window? Yet no one has been able to crack a sure-shot formula of what works at the holy grail of the movie biz – the box office. Thus most filmmakers resort to playing safe. Enter the sequel. The past years are testimony to the fact that a successful franchise has always brought in good collections at the box office. As a result, more and more filmmakers are looking to cash in on these films.
Moreover, since more and more films these days are tanking at the ticket counter, producers are clamouring to back stories that have proved successful in the past. This week, cinemas were graced with the Nana Patekar starrer Ab Tak Chhappan 2, a sequel to the 2004 hit Ab Tak Chappan. The fate of the film will be decided by cine-goers over the weekend but, in the past, films like Aashiqui 2, Grand Masti, Krrish 3, Dhoom 3 and Singham Returns have raked in big monies at the box office.
Producers therefore find it safer to stick to tried-and-tested formulae. It is often easier for filmmakers to market sequels too since the prequel carries a certain brand recall and so generating a buzz during the promotions is a lot easier.
That’s probably why there are more than 20 sequels that have been either announced by filmmakers or are already on the floors and some even approaching completion. The list is almost endless – ABCD 2, Welcome Back, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Ghayal 2, Kyaa Super Kool Hain Hum 3, Houseful 3, Grand Masti sequel, Hera Pheri 3, The Xpose 2, Rock On 2, Hate Story 3, Aashiqui 3, Go Goa Gone 2, Bodyguard 2, Jolly LLB 2, Dhadkan 2, Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 and many more.
This week, we ask industry experts why filmmakers and studios back sequels and the kind of returns they promise to bring in at the box office.
Sequels work because the audience has already given the thumbs-up to a certain franchise. Take a look at Hollywood, where most films featuring in the Top 10 box-office charts are franchises. It would be a step in the right direction if we could develop ancillary revenues such as merchandising from these Bollywood franchises. But even without that, sequels and prequels ensure a certain assured profitability based on past performance, popularity of the franchise and the characters established by that franchise. Trinity Pictures works on this very premise.
A sequel makes a business case provided there is strong recall or brand value as in the case of Pyaar Ka Punchnama. Also, the film must stand for something more than the sum of its parts. The other aspect is what the sequel can grow into overtime such as a franchise like Dhoom, thereby further driving profitability.
Sequels are produced to take a popular franchise forward but it works only when one gets a good script. For us, Aashiqui was a brand my father and Bhatt saab started and we got a great script to make a sequel. For Hate Story 2, again the script was an important part of taking the franchise ahead. We are now on the verge of making Hate Story 3 and Aashiqui 3.
People are relying on sequels but I don’t think success is guaranteed. Sequels have a brand and that brand will catch the interest of movie-goers. Finally, the content will have to be good for the sequel to click. A sequel alone doesn’t mean the film will run.
It is a marketing gimmick to announce that the sequel to a film is about to release. If the prequel was a hit, then it helps to create a buzz around a film if the next part is announced. But it finally depends on content. You simply cannot fool the audience with the same stuff any more. Earlier, most directors would get a buyer on board to finance their film if they announced that it was a sequel to a hit film. But people have since become smart and they want details on the content before green-lighting a film. That’s why we have many filmmakers working on content-driven films. It just so happens that no film has done well since November and since PK released. Things will start looking up as and when good directors with better stories are ready with their releases.
Usually, the sequel to a hit film has a completely different story with new characters and filmmakers, so it requires a big push. Thus tagging the word ‘sequel’ betters its prospects at the ticket counter. It helps market the film better. So if you spend an additional Rs10 lakh for marketing a film, that money will be recovered by the sequel merely because the groundwork regarding promotions starts when you announce that a film is a sequel to a hit film. Having said that, any filmmaker directing a sequel has a tough job because expectations are already sky high and he has to deliver to those expectations.
Sequels are a sure-shot way to ensure a good opening for a film. There are several films that create a buzz from the moment they are announced. Naturally, the audience awaits these films from the word go. But for filmmakers, it’s a bigger challenge to direct a sequel because they carry with them the baggage of the prequel, so the story has to be even better than the previous one. Otherwise, after a good opening, the film doesn’t sustain at cinemas. Since sequels are a tried-and-tested formula, producers know that they will fetch good returns at the box office.
We are not writing fresh stories; it’s the same old story with a new name. Secondly, sequels give you a brand name. You can ride on the success of your previous film. Besides, sequels are made of successful films, which already have an audience that liked the first film. So it is easy to get a good opening, at least. When a sequel has no link with the earlier film, one is fooling the audience and the film is just a marketing gimmick.
In today’s times, the first weekend business decides whether a film is a hit or a flop. So sequels ensure good footfalls during the first weekend. Take Singham Returns, for instance. Despite poor music, the film took a massive opening.
Remo D'Souza, Director
Sequels are a creative outlet for any director who has more than one vision to tell his story. When I was writing ABCD, I got another idea, which could have been turned into another film with a similar premise and characters. So I decided to make a sequel. Thankfully, ABCD was appreciated by the audience due to which we decided to make a sequel because clearly the buzz is there. In fact, the audience which was loyal to the reality show Dance India Dance (DID) came in droves to watch ABCD. For the sequel, I am hoping that the DID audience as well as the people who liked ABCD, come to watch the sequel.
Films work depending on content. So, a bad sequel doesn’t necessarily work. PK was an original film and it worked at the same time Grand Masti, which was a sequel, became a super hit. At the end of the day, a sequel gives you the advantage of audience goodwill but if your content isn’t good, the public will reject it.
When a film becomes popular, people try to cash in on it by making a sequel. But from a director’s point of view, while writing a script, a director comes up with many situations and, sometimes, these scenes stay with you and you feel you must make a sequel. With a franchise, the plot has to remain the same. For example, Dhoom and its three parts featured new villains but the essential plot of robbing was unchanged. Similarly, Hate Story and Hate Story 2 and now Hate Story 3 are very different from each other but all of them revolve around revenge.
I have written more than 55 films and have never thought of making a sequel. Even with Welcome, I believed those characters had become so famous that I would not touch them. But people pressurised me to make a sequel and I gave in. But I didn’t announce it till I found a new story which would do justice to the original.
There are no guarantees that a sequel will work. At the end of the day, the audience is looking for a good story. You can get them to cinemas by playing the sequel card but if the plot doesn’t hold their attention, the film will not work.