Hollywood raises the bar

On this year’s list of most successful films, a ‘man-cub’ raised by wolves and panthers joins the Khans and Kapoors of Bollywood. 2016 is being termed as the year that Hollywood broke through the barriers of culture, context and language in the country; its share of the Indian box office collections is estimated at 20 per cent of the total and the segment itself grew at around 17 per cent over 2015, both all-time highs.

In 2016, Disney’s Suicide Squad, showcases the diversity and richness of content. It’s an indicator that an average moviegoer is evolving and more open to experimenting with films,” says Vivek Krishnani, managing director, Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The success has been a result of astute marketing, a planned release strategy and dubbing the film in several regional languages. The Jungle Book as an Indian story made in Hollywood and spent hugely on capturing the public imagination with references to old adaptations that were popular in the country. 

Hollywood releases this year ranged from book adaptions ( Don’t Breathe.
This year has also seen an increase in the number of brands associating with Hollywood films. “Several brands across categories and consumer interests are interested in associating with our movies. For instance, Captain America: Civil War had over 70 brand associations, the highest for any Hollywood movie ever. Moreover, a few of these brand associations become global deals or they become repeat associations on franchise sequels,” says Amrita Pandey, vice president, Studios, Disney India.

Rudrarup Datta, head of marketing, Viacom18 Motion Pictures says that brand associations will only increase and brands will get more innovative as they start to target a larger audience. “Earlier it was only limited to brands which were wanting to talk to premium audiences but today mass market brands also want to be part of the increasing Hollywood influence. While the majority of the associations involve co-branded communication, we now also have contests which allowconsumers to be part of global experiences as well as meet Hollywood stars. The use of the digital medium especially social media using the film elements has also seen a marked increase from brands associating with a Hollywood film,” he adds.
Brand associations are helping many studios take bigger bets with their Hollywood releases in India too. Divya Pathak, director-marketing, SPE adds, “Marketing partnerships have grown with more and more brands recognising the potential of partnering with Hollywood films, as these films offer differentiated content, pedigree, massive franchises, globally loved characters and unique promotional ideas. We have had some very interesting promotions this year — be it Snapdeal and Insidious: Chapter 3, or (with) Freecharge for Underworld: Blood Wars, where consumers donated to a blood bank. We are working with the brands to bring in more value to these partnerships with interesting ideas and stronger reach.”

While Hollywood movies expect 2017 to build on the highs of the year gone by, studios are aware of the challenges. It is the under-screened nature of the Indian exhibition sector that continues to be a hindrance. As Datta puts it, “Penetration, penetration, penetration. For continuing to push for a larger share, Hollywood films are hugely dependent on the availability of premium multiplexes which can offer experiences like Imax 3D, Dolby Atmos etc so that films can be enjoyed in the quality they are made. That continues to be a challenge in India.”

Price is also a barrier. Pandey says, “Most of our movies are best experienced on 3D and IMAX screens, the tickets for which are comparatively high. However, we have also seen compelling content will bring audiences to the theatres.” The next year will be a true test of whether Indian tastes have really changed and whether audiences are willing to break the price barrier as films like Baywatch. 

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel