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Ring In The New-Age

Indian cinema is coming of age and filmmakers who follow the paradigm shift will emerge winners it spells new business models and big biz

The year 2010 has been a very interesting year for the industry. It was a year that in some cases saw some age-old filmmaking truths being reinforced while in some cases it saw ‘conventional wisdom’ being cast aside.

We saw changes that have led to new genres of films being experimented with, path-breaking storytelling being backed by committed filmmakers and studios, more circumspection on production budgets and new talent from across the country being given a chance to emerge. Our industry is at an interesting crossroads – one that will define the next phase of growth for the business – both creatively and commercially.

Below are some trends that the year 2011 will witness, which will be key drivers for the industry:

1) Growth of exhibition platforms and increased digitalisation of cinemas: The growth of the multiplex culture and the digitalisation of cinemas will continue to change the dynamics of the theatrical business for audience, exhibitors, distributors and producers. Films will become much more accessible to audience in remote towns via digital technology, thereby reducing costs and making it more feasible and cost-effective to further increase the penetration of cinema into the hinterland.

2) Emerging trends in marketing and publicity: Marketing is a very integral function to any movie’s success. It is becoming more and more crucial to create the right noise from the very initial stages of the pre-production of the film all the way to its release, coupled with out-of the- box innovation in addition to using traditional media.

3) Marketing Effectiveness Research: Another prominently emerging trend is Marketing Effectiveness Research, a tool that helps map the effectiveness of a marketing campaign by gauging audience response across different media vehicles every week. Considering the growing investment in marketing, this will soon become an imperative tool for studios to determine whether they are on the right track on their campaigns and will help them predict box-office performance within a reasonable margin of error.

4) Paucity of trained talent: The industry today does not see many trained specialists, the reasons being lack of structured film schools and frankly inadequate credit and compensation to talent other than those appearing on screen. If this is addressed, it will have a lasting impact on the quality and commerce of our cinema.

5) Short-form films: Audience today, especially 18 to 25-year-olds, which form the most significant ‘consuming class’ of the Indian population, can safely be termed the ‘impatient generation’. They have a preference for more snacky and short-form content, driven by having grown up on the Internet and social networking platforms, which allow them to interact rather than simply be passive spectators. New-age directors who can feel the pulse of these audience are very capable of delivering content that will bring in the trend of watching short-format content on non-theatrical platforms. The re-purposing of existing libraries by major studios can help make this a very viable revenue stream from content that already exists.

6) New emerging technologies/platforms/revenue streams: The advent of new, emerging platforms and technologies will pave the way for newer revenue streams for the film industry, apart from the box office and other traditional sources of revenue. Innovations like 3G/4G will change the dynamics of the moviewatching experience, creating new access points for consumers across the world.

7) De-risking and lower dependence on box-office revenues: Today, the opening weekend box office collections alone do not dictate the commercial fate of a film. Pre-sales deals, which include satellite rights, music rights and home-video rights sometimes recover up to 40-45 per cent of the production cost of the film even before its release. Moreover, an established studio with a strong slate of 12-15 movies a year, today has the advantage of being able to de-risk an entire slate of productions well in advance of its theatrical release.

8) Changes in legislation: Various amendments to existing laws have been proposed, which will have a direct impact on the functioning of the industry. In this process, it is imperative for the legislators to keep in mind all sides of an issue, rather than be swayed by specific interest groups.

9) Growth of regional cinema: Regional cinema will gain more prominence, with increased investments from national players. The increasing preference among audience for local flavors rather than standardisation in content, will see regional cinema growing in the coming years and sharing a larger piece of the pie in the Indian film industry.

10) 3D and visual effects: With the exhibition sector investing in the growth of 3D-enabled screens and with producers investing in VFX-heavy content, we will see a significant and growing audience for ‘event films’ in which the ‘hero’ is the experience.

11) The increasing presence of Hollywood studios in the local production sector: Considering that most developed countries have reached saturation point when it comes to the growth of filmed entertainment, while other developing markets have stringent protectionist policies in favour of local cinema, India is an emerging media and entertainment hot button for global studios.

12) New generation of filmmakers: We have already seen and will continue to see the emergence of a bold new generation of filmmakers, uniquely influenced by a mix of Hollywood, Bollywood and world cinema. This generation’s creative choices are dictated by the incredible changes they have witnessed growing up in the last two decades during India’s transition from a socialist to a liberalised state; and we have seen many of them reflect this in their work. Judging by the variety of interesting and unique subjects we have had the pleasure of watching this year, that’s a really positive and exciting trend for our cinema in the years to come.

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