Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sivaji to help southern films cross borders

Sivaji to help southern films cross borders
Super grosser a shot in the arm for the Rs 3,000cr regional film industry

NOW THAT Tamil Cinema has given Indian cinema its biggest blockbuster of all times, Southern cinema has an easy recall even in non-traditional markets. Rajnikant and Sivaji have done much more than just sell tickets across the globe. And according to a just released Ernst & Young report on South Indian cinema, the pie is only going to get bigger.

Last year, the 600 films which were released, accounted for over half of the total films produced across
India and occupied nearly 40% of the total screens in the country. As a sector, between the four languages, this cinema is worth roughly Rs 3,000 crore with Telugu having had the largest share, followed by Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam. In fact, the industry has no entry barriers, and of late, diverse people with non-film backgrounds are also getting into film production. According to E &Y, South Indian cinema is poised for strong growth in the future, driven principally by the same factors and trends that will underpin the future growth of the Indian film industry as a whole.

Traditionally, regular cine goers, watching films is a favourite past time for South Indians. Hence, domestic theatrical revenues, contribute over 70% to a film's total revenues, while overseas theatrical contributes 10% and satellite rights another 10%, with the rest coming from music and other rights. Production too has shown an increasing trend after hitting a trough in 2003. Among the four languages, production of Telugu and Tamil films has shown an increasing trend in the past few years, while Kannada and Malayalam films have not changed significantly.

As E & Y points out, not all films that are produced and certified in a particular year are released in the same year. For instance, in 2006, 587 films were certified but only 456 films were released. Among the four languages, Kannada had the highest release percentage, with 92%, followed by Malayalam (81%), Telugu (76%) and Tamil (72%). The reasons for
the variations are myriad, such as unfavourable market conditions, financial constraints and lack of demand at the distributor level.

In the Tamil and Telugu sub-segments, 35% - 50% of the films produced are small budget films, even while film budgets, particularly that of medium and big budgets have seen a significant scale-up over the past years. While the pro-duction and post - production accounts for 90% - 95% of the total cost of a small budget film, it comes down to 70- 75% in the case of big budgets, with the rest accounted for print and publicity. The moolah route too has not been bad, with a creditable performance of over 50 hits across the four languages last year. Tamil cinema the most successful with 25 hits, followed by Kannada with 12, Telugu with 10 and Malayalam with five hits. Some of the top earners, according to the report, were 'Varalaaru' (Rs 55 crore) and 'Vettaiyadu Vilayadu' (Rs 50 crore) in Tamil, 'Pokkiri' (Rs 40 crore) and 'Stalin' (Rs 33 crore) in Telugu, 'My Autograph' (Rs 6 crore) in Kannada and 'Classmates (Rs 10 crore) in Malayalam.

With changing viewer tastes, niche films is a trend of Hindi cinema which has become very popular in the South as well. From purely 'star-centric' or 'director-centric' in their film selection approach, film-makers are now more open to watching simple films with off-beat story lines. There is also a fresh crop of directorial and acting talent that is willing to experiment in making films that are different.

On the exhibition side, E &Y says, there is a distinct need for promoting more multiplexes, which has just started to catch up in the Southern market. A more organised business approach, professional packaging and marketing of a film, is an area where the South definitely lacks, and leveraging the brand value to exploit various revenue streams are some of the areas, which the report has highlighted as critical issues, that they need to focus.

It is incumbent on the industry to grasp this opportunity and realize its true potential.
Source : The Economic Times

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