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Are opening weekend collections a deciding factor for films?

With 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' and 'Baahubali' touching all-India figures of Rs 100 crore within the first three days of release, we take a look at how the marketing strategy of films are being revised to capitalise on the opening weekend...

There was a time when a film was considered 'hit' if it ran for several weeks in theatres. However, over a period of time, the way a film is measured on the BO barometer has changed. In the present scenario, opening weekend collections are the deciding factor. What else would explain the brouhaha over the bumper success of Kabir Khan's 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan', which hit the theatres last Friday? Or that of SS Rajamouli's 'Baahubali' that released the week before? Both films have proved to be game changers for the industry, which witnessed average business in the first half of 2015, by scoring all India figures of Rs 100 crore in their first weekend.

Kareena Kapoor  and Salman Khan in Bajrangi Bhaijaan
Kareena Kapoor Khan and Salman Khan in 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan'

Given this competition for box-office dominance, the marketing strategy for films are also being consistently reviewed. Projects are promoted on a grand scale to ensure a big opening weekend; it doesn't matter if the momentum is lost post the first three days. Vajir Singh of Box Office India feels that making a film today is equivalent to selling a product. "With big-budget films, there is a lot of money at stake and no one wants to take chances. Several films release every week and it's important to create a good buzz around them. Also, in addition to making a good movie, it is important to aggressively promote it so that you reap the benefits of the investment. It's all about selling your movie. Whoever sells it better wins the battle," he says.

Bahubali, which released a week before Bajrangi Bhaijaan, has managed to rake in R303 crore (worldwide) until now
'Baahubali', which released a week before 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan', has managed to rake in Rs 303 crore (worldwide) until now

Girish Wankhede, who has been distributing films for a long time now, says promotions are one of the most important aspects of filmmaking today. "You must have noticed how filmmakers announce the release date of their films well in advance to capitalise on the hype generated. The idea is that once the date is announced, the other filmmakers try to not release their films on the same date which helps the film's opening. In addition to the above, the film's content and word-of-mouth publicity help the film do well at the box-office," he adds.

For Nandu Ahuja, Senior VP (India Theatrical), Eros International, it's all about the first look of the film. "The first look/teaser or the trailer makes or breaks the film. It is at this stage that the audience decides if the film is watchable or not. Of course, the promotions on various platforms, word-of-mouth publicity and the content contribute to the business, but the first look or the promo is the deciding factor," he asserts.

Rakesh Upadhayay of White Hill Productions and Distribution echoes Ahuja's point of view and says that in the earlier days, films released in limited number of screens and had limited shows, but not anymore. "The audience today has become smarter and knows which film is worth their money. They do not want to watch every film that releases," states Upadhayay.

Trade pundits feel that both the look and the content matter, as proved in the recent cases of 'Baahubali' and 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan'. "Those two films scored in both aspects and are, therefore, doing so well at the box-office. The viewers want to watch good cinema with elements of action, emotions and drama and if the film has all that, there is no stopping it," adds a trade source

But in addition to a good story and frenzied promotions, the importance of the art of story telling cannot be ignored. In fact, that often decides the fate of a film.

Manoj Desai, Executive Director of Gaiety Galaxy, says, "'Bajrangi Bhaijaan' had the backing of star power which 'Baahubali' didn't. But both the films are doing very well at the box-office. Why? The reason is that apart from the script and direction, the way the story is told makes all the difference," he concludes.

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