Mumbai : Why is it so difficult to know the exact amount any Indian film has earned? How much has PK really made at the box office – apart from estimates? According to filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra, it seems to be a cultural problem.
“The trade always knows exactly how much each film has done, so who are they fooling? We have to get rid of this notion of projecting numbers which are wrong. The way forward has to be Rentrak, to allow tracking in real time, to ensure complete truthfulness and transparency,” said Chopra as he prepares to launch PK, the first Indian film in China with 3,500 prints.
Rentrak is a US research company that tracks 100,000 screens across 36 countries and made its India entry last October. Chopra, co-producer Raju Hirani and actor Aamir Khan signed on Rentrak to track PK prior to its release on December 19.
“It could very well have bombed but I didn’t care. I knew I had made a good film and the rest was up to the audience,” added Chopra, who had the last laugh, with the UTVreleased film becoming the highest-grossing film in India. PK’s box office collections crossed Rs 300 crore, according to Rentrak, garnering Rs 340 crore so far domestically and Rs 160 crore overseas.
Boasting a global footprint, Rentrak is able to provide real-time box office intelligence through one unique system, which allows clients to view online reports from anywhere around the world.
“I think it’s time Bollywood adopted such a system as transparency is a must for best practices and I would have no hesitation for my films to be tracked in real time,” said director Rohit Shetty on the sidelines of his second season of TV show Khatron Ke Khiladi, which he is hosting.
India is a more mature market now and is evolving, with movies increasingly becoming popular across several new markets. This is changing the way films are made — in terms of technique, the path-breaking choices in subject matter and in the way they are marketed.
“These changes are irreversible and play the role of force multipliers in bringing in best practices across the board in the business of film making from across the world. One of the important aspects of these best practices is transparency in box office data and ability to use box office analytics to optimum use,” said Rajkumar Akela, India MD of Rentrak.
By virtue of their increasing stakes in international markets and greater exposure to global business models, Indian studios are fairly aware of their merits and keen to adopt them. Eros, which just signed on Disney which uses them globally and also in India, and independents such as Dharma Productions and Yash Raj Films are ready to support complete transparency.
“World over, the access we have to daily online box office numbers helps plan releases so well, analyse many distribution trends, content performance trends and performance of each location. Given that we are a country with the highest number of movies produced each year, transparent and online access to box office numbers is long delayed already,” said Amrita Pandey, VP and Head, Marketing Studios, Disney India.
According to Rohan Malhotra, GM, Distribution at Yash Raj Films, it has been working with Rentrak since 1998 and intends to extend the relationship by including India and other international territories in the near future. The growing stake and share of Hollywood studios such as Fox and Disney in Indian content output may also accelerate this change for transparency and help take Rentrak’s model forward.
At the same time, India with its sheer size, diversity and complexities, is understandably a slow adopter to change. Akela believes that it is only a matter of time before people start looking at this from a new perspective. The digitisation of cinemas and the emergence of multiplex models have added great value.
“Rentrak has been talking to us for a while now and we will be evaluating the model. For now, we will share data with anyone our distributors tell us to share with,” said Alok Tandon, CEO of INOX Leisure, the operator of 94 multiplexes and 365 screens in 51 cities.
Industry sources say it is the single screens that harbour wrong notions about the implications of real-time data sharing and how it could deprive them of some benefits.