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In a data-driven world, box-office analytics is the only way the Indian movie business can achieve its true potential

India is admittedly the most diverse and potent movie market in the world. With 29 states and 7 Union territories, each with a different policy for the medium of cinema, over 15 thriving movie industries, the most passionate film consuming audience, the second-largest population, largest movie production in the world, abundance of creative talent, a 100-year-old tradition of making great cinema, India could have easily been among the top revenue generators too. But the truth is the Indian movie industry is still far from optimising its true potential.

One of the reasons may very well be the absence of a credible mechanism and a common platform to provide box-office data, analytics and insights that put the performance of Indian movies in perspective. While the world has long adopted the technological tools offered by Rentrak (now comScore) to create a common movie currency and has evolved in all sectors of movie business, India has been a slow starter in embracing this global best practice.      

In the 28 July 2018 edition, Box Office India carried a story on how comScore (formerly Rentrak), the global leader in box office and cross platform audience measurement, has recently been making big strides in their coverage of cinemas in India, and how this penetration has been greatly aided by the makers of PK and Sanju, Rajkumar Hirani, Aamir Khan and Vidhu Vinod Chopra. In this edition, we carry the views of some of the most prominent industry leaders and stakeholders on the issue of centralised box-office measurement.

Here’s what the Indian industry thinks about centralised box office measurement and comScore:

Mukesh Bhatt, Producer

ComScore and centralised box office collections are the need of the hour and I am very happy that they are finally coming into our country. I believe that when there is more transparency in the way we do our business, the better it is for every individual connected with the business, regardless of the sector he or she works in. Something like this, which adds value in terms of transparency, is badly needed by all and is most welcome.

We have to move away from the old ways and into a place which is clearer, more transparent and more open in the way we look at our business and conduct our business. It will be a big help to the entire fraternity. Everybody gets a clear perspective of what the real business is with centralised boxoffice collections. Many people are faking figures, corporates especially. We should stop this and give out the real numbers of every film. Then, even if my film has fared badly, I cannot fudge my figures.

First, we lie about these things and then we start believing those lies. We should conceal nothing and keep everything above board and it has to be transparent to the ‘T’. That will contribute to the health of the entire fraternity. I don’t think all cinemas and multiplexes are on board with this initiative. PVR and some others have come forward but a few theatre chains are still sceptical about it. We need change. A lot of people are hesitant but change is taking place. And we have to tell them that the change is for the better. You have to evolve with the changing times, especially if it is helping the health of the industry. Ultimately, everyone will benefit in the long run. So, instead of getting hostile with people, we have to educate them and win them over.

Siddharth Roy Kapur, President, Producers Guild of India & Founder of Roy Kapur Films

For years, the film industry witnessed a burning need for a robust and effective box office measurement system which can reflect comprehensive domestic and worldwide theatrical collections. Since a majority of industry projections have been purely based on parameters of estimates rather than a sound and crystallised box office measurement mechanism, as President of Producers Guild of India, I strongly advocate that the film industry adopt and endorse an initiative like Rentrak which will collate consolidated box office information in an efficient, transparent and concise manner. This will also facilitate qualitative judgement of industry performance by policy makers and investors as it will mirror the correct and authentic theatrical potential of the film industry.

Suresh Babu, Managing Director, Ramanaidu Studios Pvt Ltd, Hyderabad

As a producer, distributor and exhibitor, I believe a centralised box office measurement system like comScore adds immense value to the movie industry and is an empowering tool to make, market and monetise movie content, especially in a diverse market like India. I welcome the comScore initiative in India and assure my full support for the same.

Vivek Krishnani, Managing Director, Sony Pictures India

comScore is very useful for businesses that are compelled by numbers. It is important to have a credible source for box office data which can become the standard currency. Rentrak has been a proven model overseas which is used extensively by the film trade and people connected with it and it has been supported by exhibition partners across the globe.

For any industry to grow it is important to have data that is accurate, reliable and transparent and, Rentrak helps fulfill that need in markets across the world. Even in India, which has got strong film industries in the Hindi market and southern markets, precise data is not accessible and that poses a huge problem. Hopefully, Rentrak can garner the support of Indian exhibitors and distribution houses to create a common currency which will help the industry grow in the long run.

Apoorva Mehta, CEO, Dharma Productions

We have always been staunch supporters of maintaining transparency across processes within the entertainment industry. Today, there is a definite need for uniformity in terms of measuring box office collections. With credible players such as Rentrak, the process can be absolutely simplified; then why not carry it out through recognised and reputed companies like them?

Neeraj Goswami, Head of Distribution, Viacom18 Motion Pictures

I wanted and needed centralised box office collections 10 years back. I hate us living in this modern era and still having collections which are like smoke signals. It is ridiculous that today, when it comes to the box office, we have collating issues and transparency issues. Like I said, this was needed 10 years ago. The first thing that this does is hold a mirror up to people’s faces, to all those producers and people in the media who lie to themselves by calling their products a hit just for the sake of perception.

We green-light our films looking at numbers. So, five years down the line, your films will be based on an incorrect statement which has been officially issued right now. That’s not the right way to do business. Calling a spade, a spade is important but people don’t want to put the right figure out for the sake of perception. We should have accurate box office numbers out there. Some films will fail and some will succeed but we have to learn from the failures. People just keep thinking that ‘log kya kahenge’ when their film clocks bad numbers but we have to move on from that.

Everywhere in the world, everyone looks at numbers and data, and this is part of the knowledge being shared with people. It’s important, especially for people like me to take the right decisions based on the information and feedback that I get. We are such a large nation, we have so many different people and different movies, so consumption patterns keep changing. When we release a film, someone consuming it in Tamil Nadu is different from someone in Delhi-UP or maybe Orissa.

comScore can give you perspective as to when you are making a film with this director or actor or producer on a particular genre, what is the market you need to address, where it resonates well with people, where it might not work, and so on and so forth. Marketing monies can be spent accordingly. It is raw data available to you and everybody will look at it differently. But right now, your core data itself is incorrect or not available.

In the last five years, we have tried to maintain our data in a certain manner. But with comScore, all I had to do was access the information that I have to the data. It is available anywhere, I can access it even if I am sitting at the airport. The endeavor everyone has is to make a good film and this data can help us get there while we are in the making process.

Rohan Malhotra, Vice-President- Distribution, Yash Raj Films

YRF has been working with Rentrak since 1997 in international markets and we have been working in India since 2016. Measuring movie viewership in India has always been a challenge for a variety of reasons so we are happy a global player like comScore is offering a solution and a lot of Indian exhibitors are warming up to increased transparency. The software collects data directly from the cinema in real time, which brings much needed transparency and accountability for YRF. Additionally, we get a one-point solution for worldwide theatrical data of all our movies, which enables us to adjust our strategies, promotions and advertising accordingly.

Nandu Ahuja, Senior Vice-President (India Theatrical), Eros International

We are in the age of data-driven decision-making. Consolidated data allows us to improve and sharpen our strategies, be it movie exhibition, distribution, marketing or even designing our content. Data has to be available in a timely manner since timing is the essence of the movie business. Given this, the importance of a centralised box office measurement system like comScore in India is pivotal. We encourage cinemas in India to appreciate the merits of this system and participate sooner than later. We have been working with comScore in all international markets and we extend our full support to this initiative in India.

Kamal Gianchandani, Chief of Strategy, PVR Limited

The Indian movie industry is decisively moving towards a centralised box office measurement system and an era of data efficiency and analytics to optimise its potential and help leverage the transformative power of big data. We have been watching Rentrak’s growth and acceptance in the country with studios, distributors and cinemas across regions. We partnered with comScore in the belief that PVR’s participation would help accelerate the era of transparency in the Indian movie industry. It is heartening to see more and more cinemas adopting this system to make it a reality sooner than later.

Devang Sampath, CEO, Cinepolis

Centralized box office collections are being done globally and it is good to see that Rentrak has undertaken this initiative in India. Transparency of data can help in two ways; one, in marketing films and two, in planning movie releases. Authentic data really helps.

Rentrak is an analytical organisation and we strongly support the data generated by them as it helps us and the industry while taking certain calls pertaining to films. Once you have the data of authenticated box office collections and trends, you can filter so many things. Having the data is the first step and we strongly believe that it helps all of us.

Uday Singh, Managing Director for India of Motion Picture Distributors Association (MPDA)

Accurate box office information is critical for determining box-office performance in a market. Rentrak’s unified box office measurement system has evolved to become an industry standard in global box office measurement and analytics. Theaters and cinema chains across India should come forward to support this system to bring credibility to local box office numbers and establish transparency between all stakeholders.

Kumar Sundaresan, Head of Distribution, Fox Star Studios

comScore is our global partner for box office measurement, providing consolidated, authentic box-office reports and analytics for our movies from across the world. In a vast and diverse market like India, the need for a centralised box office measurement service like comScore is pivotal. We are happy comScore has gone beyond multiplexes and started tracking the box office in independent cinemas and single screens with Sanju. Through our concerted effort, we are sure that the Indian movie industry will fully realize the benefits of this system and help unlock the true potential of Indian cinema within and outside India.

Karan Ahluwalia, Senior President & Country Head, Media & Entertainment, Fine Arts, Luxury & Sports Banking Group

comScore is a harbinger of change to the Indian exhibition industry given its distinctive position as the only and compelling global movie currency, measuring movie viewership from the global box office universe akin to Broadcaster Audience Research Council (BARC), which is an alternative system for television viewership measurement. These diverse measurement metrics will provide the impetus to bring in greater transparency and accurate viewer insights as well as desired investment into the entire ecosystem of film production/exhibition, advertisers, media agencies, broadcasters and OTT ++, going forward!

Rahul Kadbet, Head of Programming , Carnival Cinemas

In a vast, diverse and fragmented market like India, a centralised box office measurement system that can provide unbiased, authentic and accurate BO data and analytics is essential. We, as one of the leading cinema chains in India, have been supporting this initiative from the early stages of Rentrak’s entry into India. The progress comScore has been making of late, by getting independent cinemas and single screens on board, in addition to multiplex chains, is a positive and welcome development.

It inspires confidence that as they reach closer to 100 per cent coverage, comScore is bound to produce tangible value for the exhibition sector and for the Indian industry as a whole. As Carnival Cinemas expands its foot print in territories like the UAE, (GCC) and Singapore and so on, we greatly appreciate comScore’s service, as a reliable global source to supply valuable insights into movie box office trends in all such markets.

Suku Murti, Senior Media Industry Professional & former Managing Partner of Group M

Cinema as an advertising medium has been languishing in growth in comparison to other media in India. This has been primarily due to lack of reliable monitoring and measurement data, without which advertisers will not commit serious budgets towards this medium. The advertising and media research industry in India would be most willing to collaborate with a credible entity like comScore to jointly develop a cinema currency which will help the medium grow multifold and gain a larger share of the media budgets of advertisers.

Bhuvanesh Mendiratta, AVP Operations, Miraj Cinemas

Every multiplex chain nowadays has software to record the right box-office numbers. The software is in multiplex chains all over the world. These numbers give exhibitors an idea about the entire film market. Take Sanju, for example. If I wanted to see the advance booking of the film and how much revenue it has generated, that data is just a click away, as is other data categorized by region and audiences.

Rentrak is a centralised system which gives distributors and the distributor lobby access to the exact collections made by a film, which film is performing well, how people are coming to watch a particular film, and so on and so forth. This kind of data is very helpful to all of us as it gives us an insight into the audience’s behavior regarding a particular film.

These tools are very useful to get to know your audience. In the Indian market, the screen count is huge, amounting to 7,000-8,000, and multiplexes contribute more than 70 per cent of the overall box office collections. I believe things are getting streamlined due to these centralised processes and that helps to form authenticated strategies for the film market. It is a fantastic tool to knowing the consumer behavior.

Sudipto Pal, Manager, Distribution, Shringar Films

As a leading distributor and having been part of several pioneering initiatives for the movie industry in India, we at Shringar Films believe that a centralised box office measurement system like that of comScore offers immense value to the industry and exhibitors. Unless, as stakeholders, we become constantly aware of movie consumption patterns, our respective market shares and reliable box office revenues of movies, through a solution like comScore, we cannot accurately assess or pro-actively make efforts to improve our strategies for the growth of the movie business.

Since, cinemas in particular will benefit from this system to improve their programming strategies and achieve better performance, it is imperative that they embrace this initiative in their own interest and in the interest of the industry. As each state and region in India consumes movies differently and has different policies, we will also benefit from the insights that we get from a platform like comScore in understanding movie trends better. The Producers Guild of India is rightly supporting this initiative and on our part we have been persuading cinemas to participate sooner to accelerate this process.

International cinema chains including the largest and most prominent chains in the world – AMC, Regal, Cinepolis, Carmike, Cinemark, Wanda, Odeon Cinemas - UK, Pathe Cinemas - France, UCI Cinesa - Spain & Portugal, Kinepolis, Kinoplex, Kinomax, Yelmo Cines – Spain, and so on, vouch for the value of comScore’s box office measurement at cinemas. In our future editions, we will be carrying their views on the merits and need for a solution like comScore.  

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