Unfortunately, our industry doesn’t focus on children’s films. The point is the industry needs to support this genre to make it popular. For instance, if I have a big production house and I am churning out blockbuster films each year, I should also make a film that caters to kids every year, to support the cause. The Jungle Book is a classic story but we need to make films that deal with kids in some way or the other, whether on their problems or their thinking or even their adventures.
I did a film called Shortcut Safari and not many people realise there is an entirely different approach to this genre whereas The Jungle Book is a mainstream film. I would love to do more films that cater to kids. I have always been involved with children charities and support issues relating to children. The idea is to support the cause, so if I am approached with a kids’ film, I would do it even if I have a very small role in it.
There is always scope for every genre provided it is made well and marketed well. Having said that, this domain (children’s films) can actually do well considering children are accompanied by parents and, many a time, there are repeat admits.Kung Fu Panda 3 did fairly well, followed by The Jungle Book, which got a phenomenal response for its legacy, content, marketing and also due to the ongoing summer vacations. Multiplexes are eagerly waiting for The Angry Birdsand the next instalment of the Ice Age, as they are expecting a similar shout out.
The children film genre has always been quite a popular genre provided it is released during the school vacations. Records prove that movies like Minions, the Ice Ageseries, Tin Tin, Cars, Harry Potter, Kung Fu Panda, and Bollywood movies likeHanuman, the Chhota Bheem series, Taare Zameen Par, Bal Ganesh, Stanley Ka Dabba and Bhoothnath are quite popular and have reeled in great collections at the box office too.
The entire communication of The Jungle Book was done keeping in mind the super hit television series of the 1990s, and also the fact that both the languages are treated as separate movies, and this worked in favour of
I believe that there should be more engaging content made for this genre in order to provide wholesome entertainment to children. This is the only genre that brings in the entire family, and they enjoy themselves that much more as most of these films are comedies. The formula of success lies in meaningful content, released at the right time, with good marketing strategies.
The upcoming surge in animation technology will boost movies in this particular genre. Adding tax benefits, subsidies and rebates will perhaps encourage more filmmakers to make content for children. The Children Film Society, India, a government body, is not very active in this space but they can potentially play a big role.
There is a market for any good film, and there is an extra advantage with children’s films because children always go to the cinema with their parents. It is our belief in the trade that instead of one ticket, three or four tickets are sold for films in the children’s genre.
This trend is huge in Hollywood, where animation contributes a major chunk to the total Hollywood BO pie because adults too love these movies. The Indian market for the same is at a very nascent stage but movie-goers have begun to appreciate content like that, with films like Cars, Ice Age, Kung Fu Panda 3 and some others being very well received. In Hindi, our Taare Zameen Par and Bhoothnath catered to kids and families and they were lapped up too.
Walt Disney Studios is dedicated to children of all ages. They have consistently serviced that demographic, much like a pediatrician. Given that the VFX of many Hollywood films is rendered in India, original Indian stories told in animation is a distinct possibility. Masoom and Mr India are still the benchmark films when it comes to kids’ films, and in animation, it’s Hanuman and Chhota Bheem.
I believe things are beginning to change and if an outstanding kids’ film comes along, it will get a decent release. Solo producers and distributors don’t want to take any chances, so unless a film is backed by a good corporate house, no one will touch it. Things have changed, with Hollywood films that are made with good content and visuals taking over the Indian box office, with films that cater to a young audience. For instance, The Jungle Book was a film well-made and it was marketed in a way that not only intrigued kids but also parents who watched it
with their kids.
Films like the Chhota Bheem series have a very loyal audience and cater to kids, not only in cinemas but also on television, with merchandise and games. We need more content like that. Today, the audience is all for experimental films and children’s films work if they are made well. We have examples like Taare Zameen Par, Chillar Party, Stanley Ka Dabba and Gattu, which were successful. These films are viable with a proper distribution strategy based on targeting the school network.
Children have to be accompanied by their parents to cinemas and that’s why children’s films have a restricted audience. But with corporate houses taking the initiative, kids’ films are getting a platform for release. While a solo producer or distributor cannot take risks, a corporate house can promote and release a film in the right way.
Do children’s films have a future in India? I believe they do work but more on television than in cinemas. Nowadays, kids have many other sources of entertainment… from smartphones to television content, so a filmmaker should target that and make films accordingly.
The Jungle Book not only catered to kids but also the older audience, who grew up watching the series on television. If you look closely, you will realise that only films that had corporate backing and the resources to have all-out promotions and marketing did well at the ticket window, while smaller kids’ oriented films didn’t live up to expectations. Kids’ films should be made for little ones but also have the ability to charm the older audience, and unlike us, Hollywood films have a knack of doing just that.
The Jungle Book has broken all box-office records and has become the highest-grossing Hollywood film in India. There was always a market for children’s films in India. The market has further grown in the last 4-5 years. Besides quality content, digitisation of screens and growth in multiplexes have played a big role in expending the market.
Chhota Chetan, which released in 1998, was a big hit. There are many other Bollywood children’s films, like Makdee, Hanuman and Chhota Bheem, which were big hits at the box office. Five years ago, nobody would have imagined that a children’s film could do business of over `180 crore in India. This is the finest example of the power of quality content. There are some other Hollywood kids’ films which have done well at the Indian box office in the last year, like Inside Out, Minions, The Good Dinosaur, Frozen, Cinderella, Zootopia and Kung Fu Panda 3. We are looking forward to The Angry Birds, Finding Dory and Ice Age: Collision Course, which are releasing in the coming weeks.