Film’s Opening Weekend: How to get audiences in?

MUMBAI: Today a movie’s fate is decided on the collections it rakes in on the opening weekend. Silver and Golden Jubilees are a thing of the past now.

Moreover, the monies and stakes involved in films are growing with every passing Friday. While there was no unique formula for ensuring blockbuster hits in the olden days, there isn’t one now… or may be there is!

While for some movies a ‘wide release’ with 1200 prints can do the trick, for some others a ‘platform release’ will 100 prints is a better option, coupled with tools such as publicity, marketing, good star cast, music et al.

In a seminar organized at FICCI FRAMES, Eros International COO Jyoti Deshpande, Film director and producer Kunal Kohli, trade analyst Komal Nahta, P9 Integrated CEO Navin Shah and Special Treats Productions’ Colin Burrows spoke about availability of various permutations and combinations to ensure audiences in theatres on the opening weekend.

"The opening weekend is not the be all and end all. If the content is good, it will last beyond the opening weekend. The problem in front of the industry is the extravagant flow of money. It is because of this that people have stopped thinking out-of-the-box and are not investing funds in scripts, ideas and technology," said Kohli.

The publicity of a movie across various media is a key factor in determining a successful opening weekend. "For a big movie, the gross noise around the movie should be twice the cost of the movie and in the case of smaller films, the gross noise should be four times that of the movie’s budget. Full page ads with movie reviews can really help in drawing audiences to theatres, especially in the case of niche films," said Shah.

Nahta said, "In times to come, the importance of opening weekend will increase and movies are bound to have an over-saturated release. Moreover creative compromises will be made in scripts as money making has become the bottom-line. Factors such as star cast, music, packaging, controversies and even the title of a movie are key factors in determining the opening of a movie."

The combination of good content with great marketing and distribution helps in drawing audiences to theatres. The quality of content in a movie is definitely the key factor in determining its fate, but every movie should be treated on its own merit and a separate strategy must be planned for each of them.

Eros’ Deshpande opined, "With more and more movies releasing, the calendar is becoming full and therefore it is a commercial call to capitalize on the opening weekend. Opening weekend figures can certainly be pre-calculated in accordance with number of prints a movie releases with, its publicity and star cast."

She further added, "Although there are 13,000 screens in India, we release movies with only 800 prints. Furthermore, 1000 multiplex screens in India account for 80 per cent of the business. Now, as more and more multiplexes opening up, movie releases will become wider."

The science of distribution can help to draw audiences to ensure opening weekends followed by word of mouth publicity and thereafter the movie survives on its own merit. This formula can be applied to all movies across the table irrespective of its stature.