Franchising the movie art – The Editor

endhiranRecently I was in the USA and I ended up watching the movie “Enthiran-The Robot” in Chicago. When I went in to the cinema, with much compulsion at first, I was humbled by the crowd that had gathered to watch the movie. Obviously all those people were the actor Rajinikant’s fans and I realized that all of them were watching the movie for the second or the third time. The audience was a mix of all ages and I was thrilled at the impact that it had on kids and adults. They went out of the cinema talking about the Robot and were impersonating what the lead character said and did in the movie. It struck me then, sitting there, why the Indian film industry does not create franchises for a movie like the Robot.

I visited a Star Wars store in Disneyworld and realized what a large behemoth of a franchise the movie has become; DVDs, games, animated movies, books, toys, comics and even apparel were being sold. Hollywood’s Studios have perfected this art over a century of movie making while back home we are driven by single movies that are still producer and director led, although we are as old as Hollywood. Now the business opportunity to make franchises out of movies and characters for Studios must be enormous in a country like India with a market that is worth $ 650 million and can go grow to a billion in no time, provided Indian movie makers desire to become a Disney or a LucasFilm. What role does technology have to play in this? The market is in catering to theatricals, games, DVDs, home entertainment and animated series. There a series of firms in each of these genres and these firms lie there for the taking if producers and directors could start their own studios.

I see this market hotting up if entertainment studios, directors and producers create an amalgam of sorts to raise large monies to make grand movies like the Robot. Imagine the amount of work that can be outsourced to emerging entrepreneurs in the digital animation and gaming scene too. These big names however will have to create a business model that can ensure returns not just on the release of the movie, but on the entire distribution gamut of a franchise. For some reasons we seem to have only perfected the art of creating a splash out of the movie before the release, after that it just dies in memory. To refresh such a lost memory, do you remember the movie “KITES” pre-release or post its release? You know the answer to this one, it is the former.

We do a lot of i-banking work for digital media firms and I believe that there is enough digital work to be outsourced locally to make great franchises in India. But currently all big Studios like a Reliance Media Works, Eros ICube and a Prime Focus concentrate heavily on outsourced work from Hollywood. This is common knowledge; they do so because Indian Cinema suffers from credibility in financing and making payments. The economics of making a great franchise in Indian cinema is still a long way away. But the opportunity is just waiting to be taken. Disney and Nickelodeon are yet to figure out their India strategy, properties like “Sponge Bob” are already creating a splash here. Cartoon Network is already the most watched channel. A franchise is important for a movie, just like award ceremonies are important for TV Channels, Newspapers and Magazines. It just brings in the ad-revenues to make their businesses profitable and ensure returns to investors. The likes of Disney, Dreamworks and a Lucas Films are big abroad, will they now take a dip in India if we Indians do not.

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About Deepak
Venture Capital and M&A advisor, Entrepreneur, Startup enthusiast..

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