Pre-selling a film de-risks the odds for producers but is the guessing gameworth it for corporate houses
Kishore Lulla of Eros Internationalhad invested an astronomical sumby acquiring the rights of ShahRukh Khan’s dream venture, RA.One. In an interview to Box Office India, KingKhan had remarked, “It was a huge film and Kishore asked me, “Yeh kaisehoga?” I was, like, “Tu dekh le. Nahihoga toh koi choti picture kar lenngesaath mein.”
That was generous of Khan, and Lulla must be applauded for having implicit faith in the actor and not chickening out. And it paid off. Although RA.One did not re-write box-office history, the film set a benchmark and it did break records interms of the huge investments involvedwhile still making sure Eros International did not lose any.
Things have changed since. In the race to pack their slate with biggies, corporate houses are constantly falling over each other to acquire the rights to various films. Often, they end up paying more than a film deserves but that hasn’t cured the acquisition fever.
Why, nowadays, the rights to a film are snapped up by a corporate house even before the official announcement. Take Dabangg 2, for instance. Four leading corporate houses – Viacom 18, Reliance Entertainment, Fox Star Studios and UTV Motion Pictures – wanted to be a part of the sequel to the hugely successful Dabangg. We’ll get to know who comesup trumps in no more than a week.
Bol Bachchan was another film thatwas caught in the acquisition race. Shooting was still underway when Fox Star took over the project. Ditto Son Of Sardar, which is now with Viacom 18. As for Ghayal 2, the cameras are yet to rollbut Viacom 18 already has it in the bag.
Anurag Kashyap decided to team upwith Vikas Behl, Vikramaditya Motwaniand Madhu Mantenna to launch a new company, Phantom. The companyalready has two biggies – Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji and Viacom18 – on board with them.
Rakesh Roshan seems to be the only recent exception. Roshan decided not to join hands with a corporate house but to make Krrish 3 on his own. Considering his track record, distributors from various territories clinched the deal for their respective territories.
The mantra is very clear: If you’re a successful filmmaker, corporate houses will fall over each other to team up with you. And, if you sign a big name to the cast, expect many corporate houses to knock at your door.
The bottom line: Today, films have plenty of ‘commercial value’ attached to them, which in turn attaches business value to the product. Thus, with corporate houses entering the picture, producers now expect them to get involved with the filmmaking process as soon as the rights are sold. Nowadays, the rights are sold even before a film goes on the floors. By pre-selling a film’s rights, the producer de-risks the odds of making a loss. The corporate house bears the brunt.
We spoke to filmwallahs on this tricky proposition and asked them how beneficial it is for a distributor or corporate house to acquire the rights to a film well before its release. Here’s what they hadto say.
Film rights differ from project to project. For instance, we were thefirst in CI to buy the music rights of Krrish3 because it is valuefor money and dueto the names attached to the project. Itis very important to have a brand name associated with a project for people to be convinced of buying the rights. Corporate houses who buy the rights do the accounting at various intervals and have a clear idea of profit and loss. Decisions are taken after that. Profit and loss is partof every business but, at the end of theday, the price matters.
When a film’s rightsare sold well inadvance, it offers the producer a sense of security and also resultsin rich advertising. Corporate houses are committed people. They take everything into consideration before closing adeal, from the director, script and actors.