Friday, 18 November 2011

7 Kinds of “Hits” in the film industry

Back in the day the difference between a hit, average & flop was clear. A hit meant that film that was seen & liked by a lot of people & collected good money. It usually collects 120-150% of the budget. A superhit film was one that did exceedingly well at boxoffice. It was quite simple to know which movie was a hit & which wasn’t.
But modern-day film business is so complex, that it is very hard to classify a movie. Also the term “hit” has become vague and relative. Almost like the idea of ‘good’. What might seem ‘good’ to one person or segment, might seem ‘bad’ to another. Likewise, a film may be or seem like a hit to some people or segments, while it is not one to some. Confused? Read on. Not all ‘hits’ in the industry are the same. They come in 7 varieties. But what the industry needs today is the last one I mentioned, the good old “hits” or ‘universal hits’ as they’re known today. Though, I have written this keeping Telugu Cinema in mind, the same applies to Bollywood & Tamil cinema.
Producer safe, distributors loss : The movie’s producer makes the film with his money, adds a handsome margin and sells it off to distributors. Regardless of the movie’s performance at boxoffice he is “safe”. In most cases even if the movie collects well, because of the high prices it was sold for, it won’t be financially profitable for the distributors.
Distributor safe, producer loss : This is a rare instance but does happen often. Often, the movie goes over-budget or was shot was beyond its market. In that case, the producer sells it off for less than the movie’s budget and limits his loss. Unless the movie goes onto be a smashing blockbuster, its unlikely he will recoup his costs. If the movie does ‘well enough’, the distributors who invested in the film would make small sums, where as the Producer would go home with a loss. For ex : A film that released in 2010, was made on a budget of 14 crores. The producer could sell the theatrical rights of the movie only for 8 crores. He raised another 4 crores from satellite, music, overseas & home-video rights. In all he made 12 crore of business and took a hit of 2 crores. When the film released, it did well and recovered a little over 8 crores at boxoffice. So the trade terms this film a ‘hit’, while in reality it was a loss-making film for the Producer.
Media hit/perception hit : Hits of this variety are more frequent in our industry offlate. The movie usually is a backed with a high-decibel campaign. If the word-of-mouth is even slightly positive, the producer launches a big campaign trumpeting its success by hosting press meets, publishing inflated collections in advertisements and having “paid coverage” in magazines, newspapers & television. In most cases, the film would attained break-even or modest profits, but it’s perceived to be a big hit. While the intelligent section of the audience doesn’t buy the hype, most people are gullible and actually believe the movie is a huge hit. A lot of producers in our industry are not serious filmmakers. They’re here for the kicks, glamour or fame.They are happy living with the “hit” tag, than really making money from the films. Hence we see more of “perception hits” these days.
ROI Hit : This is the “Return on Invesment” hit. Some films might not collect a big sum at the boxoffice or enjoy a great word-of-mouth, but because of the low cost it was made or sold for, it’s a financially successful project for all or most parties involved. Another case for an ROI hit, is that the film has a A-list star and opened with great hype in hundreds of screens. Though, the response might be mixed due to the superb openings, the movie would have recovered its cost. This is reason distributor’s have craze for movies featuring big actors as they have the crowd-pulling capacity.
Sleeper Hit : Some films when they release have an moderate opening & decent word-of-mouth. Usually, its expected such films don’t last long at boxoffice. But these films, either due to the theme or the loyal audience the star commands makes small sums of money every week, over many weeks. Though in terms of buzz & perception it’s not seen as a big hit, the movie ultimately would have made huge money at boxoffice.
Territorial Hit : Some films perform inconsistently at the boxoffice. Though overall the movie is not counted as a success, some films perform better than expected in certain territories. Usually, the while producer or other distributors might have lost money, the distributor from this one particular territory would have made money. It’s usually because the hero of the film enjoys extra craze in that area, or because of the film’s theme. For ex : Sarkar Raj collected very well in Mumbai as it had ‘local relevance’ where the rest of India it under-performed. Usually, each hero has his bastion where has as edge over other heroes. Also, certain types of films perform better in some areas. Love stories and family dramas tend to do better in Nizam, overseas & Karnataka. There are many instances where some films perform well only in certain territories. There are many instances when movie portals have rubbished film, which fared poorly overseas but went onto be blockbusters in India. This happens in Bollywood too.
Hit/Superhit/Blockbuster : These are films which enjoy a good word-of-mouth, collect very well and are financially profitable to all the parties involved – producer, distributors & exhibitors. Like I said earlier, the industry needs more hits of this variety – a film that qualifies to be called a success on most counts.

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