The numbers a film racks up can make or break its prospects. Let’s leave this job to those who are qualified to report them – film distributors
The authenticity of the distribution business which was prevalent years ago is missing today. Figures are printed in magazines and on websites without even checking with the actual people connected with the film.
How do these guys get the figures even before the distributors have collected them from the cinemas and sub-distributors, all-India? It is not possible to get the exact, accurate figures till noon while figures appear at 1 am the previous night. There are various formulas like Punjab, CI, PVR multiplied by a certain percentage but they are not always accurate.
These so-called trade pundits give out figures like Rs 4,22,30,000/- and the trade or people who don’t understand the business blindly believe these figures, while they are only approximations with no one to verify or validate them.
It seems everyone, with absolutely no financial investment or involvement in the filmmaking process and therefore as an outsider, has become a trade pundit or blogger who puts out numbers and the fate of the film even before the actual audience has watched the film.
Films do pick up, sometimes even after so-called film critics have run it down. Audience is influenced by these opinions and blogs but nothing can stop a good film and history proves it, for example, Grand Masti, Gadar: Ek Prem Katha, etc. Every film is made with so much passion and hard work. So many people’s livelihoods depend on this as does the businesses o f distributors and exhibitors, who know the true ground reality.
Social media has become a very powerful tool and should be used only for the benefit of all in the industry and not with malice to bring someone down. There are ulterior motives at work and it’s not as clean as it looks!
These bloggers are sometimes not connected with inside industry information but they offer their opinions on films and ‘critique’ them only to increase their online following. This often harms the film even before the audience has a chance to watch it and decide for themselves. Obviously, they do not write only positive comments because they get more ‘likes’ if they write about how the top actors, directors and producers haven’t fared well at ‘their’ so-called, self-proclaimed box office.
Have you ever picked up a magazine or newspaper cover, where the headlines are all positive?
Earlier, the figures used to be given out only by distributors to all magazines, without any manipulation. There used to be discussions but no back-stabbing. The final word belonged to the men and women who knew the actual business. It was the Gospel truth and it was clear, clean and transparent.
Then the corporates came in and started inflating the figures so that their share prices and investors were happy, without realising that the figures would come back to hit them hardest. They had to pay the highest prices to stars and technicians, and for distribution rights, as the record of figures proves otherwise. Even individual producers started giving out wrong figures for perception sake and to satisfy egos.
The magazines, film websites and their staff who survive on advertisements from our production and distribution sector should check before putting out these figures.
Every person in the film trade and so-called ‘outsiders’ who feel they are connected only have one discussion on Friday… What are the first-day figures? And on Sunday, what are the weekend figures?
No one appears interested in the audience’s response, how they have viewed the film and if the film has the potential to pick up in the week ahead. The passion to make films from the good old times of Mr Raj Kapoor to Mr Boney Kapoor in the last decade has lost its value. It’s only about the first day/ weekend numbers and what the lifetime numbers will be.
Distribution has become a cut, copy and paste job, where just about anyone, even without experience, is engaging in ‘laptop distribution’ without any knowledge of the ground reality. Why is Yash Raj Films still working with experts in various territories in India? Is this because they can’t afford to set up their own offices and do away with paying commissions to distributors? They do this because they belong to the old, genuine school of films and respect the knowledge and expertise of the ‘real’ people in the business.
All collections are either inflated or decreased as there is no connect with the distribution and exhibition sectors, which is the main link to box office collections and the audience. Top stars like Mr Salman Khan and Mr Shah Rukh Khan are refunding or are considering to refund distributors and exhibitors, who have incurred losses in their films. What if they were to believe the figures printed on these sites and magazines and refund as per those figures only? What is the fault of the distributors and exhibitors who give out the transparent figures along with DCR’s and yet not get their rightful due as some self-proclaimed trade pundits think otherwise and force everyone to believe them by tweeting wrong figures first?
It would help the entire industry if the numbers could be authenticated directly from genuine sources.
The numbers for the recent release Daddy, released all-India by our distribution concern, were under-reported by `2-3 crore on various sites and magazines. This, in turn, affects the satellite and balance rights sale proceeds of my producer Mr Arjun Rampal and in turn the industry perspective of the film. The film has not worked in North, East and South but it worked majorly in the West (Mumbai, Thane and Maharashtra), where the box office numbers have been excellent.
It is not the fault of trade pundits and sites as the three areas of Mumbai contributed 70 per cent of all-India collections, which is unbelievable but true. In my 21 years of experience as a key distribution company, a film has not collected this kind of ratio in Mumbai. This is due to the character and concept of the film being Mumbai/ Maharashtra-based. Miracles do happen, only we must believe in them from inside!
Lastly, I urge the film industry to unite to give out only accurate and authentic collections. Distributors, who are the real source of accurate figures and theatrical collections, should be the only point of contact. Any discrepancy can be supported by a DCR (daily collection report).
This will benefit the entire industry while the public will also get the true picture of the collections. It is then up to them to accept a film or not with open arms. No perceptions or collections will change the mindset of the audience and it will be a more open-minded and transparent business, which is something we have all been striving to achieve.
So, let’s use social media more positively and let’s leave the numbers and figures to the original torch-bearers of the business. We will see a much happier, thriving and positive film industry. Like it used to be!
– On the eight dilemmas that the film industry is facing due to self-proclaimed trade analysts, Rakesh Sippy, Managing Director Raksha Entertainment Pvt Ltd