Lets Talk Show Biz

Hrithik, Salman and Akshay have been in the news for negotiating contracts with corporates… Akshay didn’t sign on then… Salman remams a mystery In sync with the Union budget, let’s look at the larger picture of the film industry where ratio of hits to flops is highly imponderable

year was no exception to the rule, on paper at least – at a modest estimate 90 per cent of the Mumbai movie industry’s 170 (give or take a few) were downers. Yet more than the usual number made it to the hit status and so all was well with the show world. Curiously enough, in recent years there has been the trade tendency to slot hits – that is films which bring in the bucks – as superhits, hits, semi-hits and what is stil1vaguely termed “commissioner earners” (which suggest that they made a little money for the distributors and exhibitors who coughed up a hefty amount of cash for them). Market earners There are five main film territories – or states and cities – to which Bollywood products are sold. Essentially, these are Bombay-Maharashtra-Gujarat, Delhi-UP, Nizam and South, Rajasthan and Bengal. ‘Territories’ termed as CP-CI and miscellaneous belts indeed remain undermed for the new entrant to the business at least. And, of course, there is the overseas market. Other “unconventional” markets exist too, and fresh entrepreneurs always state that there are so many countries which are to be tapped fully – in South East Asia and the Middle East. In some parts of the country’s “interiors” (read small towns and villages), it is alleged that tickets are not even issued – okay, before there is an outcry against such a sweeping statement, we’ll say that exhibitors committing such a practice are the exception rather than the rule. It’s a hypersensitive film industry It’s absolutely correct in protesting the steep entertainment tax, assorted levies and the central government’s attitude which down the years has caromed between the extremes of the grudgingly supportive to the highly indifferent. Stars don’t ahvays sell! There are associations looking after the health or the lack thereof the industry These have been indefatigable for sure. Steadfastly, though, they have harped on the “commercial” film industry so to speak. The off-mainstreamer and the newcomer – to be accorded some sort of stature – has to score a hit, a big one. Or just linger there in the studio shadows, buster In fact, it’s a booming creative business around the world – where the “new” is suspected and discouraged. Meanwhile, the “same ole” is defied, even if it is acknowledged that top stars and banners cannot always sell a movie. Much has been made about the arrival of the corporate companies in the show field. The larger picture is that they have attempted to make film activity “professional.” Or have they? Trade pundits, in fact, are balking at the incredibly cushy contracts being offered to actors nowadays, tilting the already irrational scale of star prices. Hrithik Roshan, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar have been in the news for negotiating contracts with corporates. Akshay Kumar didn’t sign on then. Salman Khan remains a mystery Predictably, none of the heroines is being offered the heavy duty deals. On the other hand, most A-line directors are receiv- ing star salaries (upwards of Rs 1 crore). Most directors have switched to establishing their own production houses and as in Hollywood most frontline producers are either fully or partly co-producing their movies. Often this means they do not take a fee for the project but a percentage in the profits, fingers crossed. As you always do, for moviebiz. On a high or low, it’s there to keep you glued to your seats. MULTIPLEX BOOM By the end of 2006, about 145 multiplexes came up in India with more than 550 screens. Mumbai has 18 multiplexes. Fame Adlabs, PVR, IMAX, Inox, E-Square and Fun Republic are among the front-runners in the multiplex market. PVR, Bangalore, is India’s biggest 11 screen multiplex. Ghaziabad – an industrial township with an estimated population of 10 lakh – now holds a distinction of having 13 multiplexes. Few years ago, there was not a single theatre in Lokhandwala area, but now there are three multiplexes, all a stone’s throw away from each other.