Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Marketing of a Movie

The idea for writing this blog came after I had an almost-live experience of coming across a press conference of the Akshay starrer Housefull (though I sensibly avoided it) when in Ahmedabad. In this blog I would discuss the different stages and ways in which buzz about a movie is created i.e. how a movie is marketed? I would limit myself to only those aspects that pitch the movie to the audience rather than a director pitching it to the producer or to the movie star.

Let’s take the first step of this journey which is also known as the muhurat or the launch. The first few selling points could be the star couple, launch of a new star son or daughter, the acclaimed director or coming together of the pairs rarely seen together. Subhas Ghai’s Saudaagar that saw late Raj Kumar pitted against Dilip Kumar generated a lot of interest as historically as per rumors ego-clashes kept these actors from acting together.  The example of Saawariya that sank without a whimper but was in the news regularly due to launch of Ranvir and Sonam is a case in point. The off-screen chemistry or gossips about the lead couple have been traditionally exploited to create a much needed first impression. The prestige of the occasion is measured by the quality of the audience rather than its quantity i.e. which celebrities made it to the launch.

Next in line are the teasers or trailers of the movie. It’s solely meant for the common audience be it TV or nowadays the netizens. Undoubtedly the teasers are the best way to create interest among the audience. The best teaser leaves you wanting for more e.g. Ishqiya that captured Vidya Balan’s rustic beauty sensually. Well made trailers can ensure good openings though the effects might be short-lived.

The songs are next in line that can play a vital role in ensuring that the movie captures the mind-space by taking the lip- route. Once again the premier this time the music one, aims at having all the major news and entertainment channels jostling for reporting it. There have been numerous movies that rode on the success of the songs to deliver hits. The examples are Aashiqui, Dil ka kya kasoor etc. In fact some consider the song “tu cheez badi hai mast mast” being very instrumental in success of the movie Mohra though some did shift loyalty to the rain song when the movie released.
Traditionally the movie release should be next in order but once snubbed but now revered smaller screen i.e. TV shows are the next medium for promoting the films nowadays. You have stars turning up in guest roles or one episode appearances at popular shows like KBC, Dance or Laughter shows to attract the prime-time audiences.  Some Hollywood movies or pre-released movies with few prizes at movie festivals do have a chance to leverage their success to ensure a good start. The Bollywood movie makers don’t miss a chance to go international nowadays by premiering their offerings at Int’l film festival e.g. “Raavan” at the Cannes film festival and “Road, Movie” world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Though some of you might remember carts carrying movie posters and blaring loudspeakers to announce movie releases esp. in small towns.

 The movie makers are traditionally superstitious people. There is a clamor amongst the producers to find the best release dates. Some of the factors are auspicious dates, festival dates, similar theme based movie, major star release etc. Though, good movies can achieve success even if they are released side by side e.g. Gadar and Lagaan. Now comes the release date when every producer looks for bumper openings. Apart from the pre-release hype, the fan base is the one big reason for a grand start.  It’s the fans of RajniKant who go out of their way to enhance the movie watching experience. The chulbul prototypes at the theaters worked fabulously for Dabaang.

Unfortunately the riskiness associated with movies are so high that despite taking all the factors into consideration and ensuring quality pre-work, the movie might bomb. In the end the core product as is the case with any profession, the cinematic experience be it story, acting skills or editing finally pulls it through.
With big bucks riding on movie nowadays, the marketing of the movie doesn’t end with the release. Especially movies with strong start try to build on its success to create more buzz say through road shows. Those with above average start have achieved some success through post-release promotions. Tere Naam ran promos even one year after the release of the movie.

Do let us know novel methods of movie promotions that you have witnessed. By the way have you Dabaangified or Rajnified your image on FB yet?

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