Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Big Visual Effects? A Bust In India

Box office results tell the tale.

Indian films that spend millions on special effects just don’t make good business sense

Hollywood’s special effects blockbusters—from Avatar to the Twilight and Harry Potter series — often make good business sense. They’re served up to a massive global English-speaking audience, and their first-rate visual effects keep moviegoers glued to their seats. ...

But big budget Indian films, heavy on special effects, typically just don’t deliver the goods.
Producer Rob Cain, writing in Forbes, had this explanation:

…Hindi speaking Indians buy an enormous number of movie tickets each year, but with average ticket prices of just a dollar or two, and movies that gross only a few millions dollars on average, with little audience appeal outside their home turf, it would be foolish in most cases to spend more than a few million dollars to make an Indian language film.

“Indian cinema, including Bollywood, is popular only among people who know about it and sadly most of the world does not,” Tula Goenka, a filmmaker and professor at Syracuse University, [said]. ... “The big VFX-driven films, which are more westernised in their content, tend to alienate the mainstream audience in the smaller towns and rural areas. And the multiplex audience in the cities stay away from these films because they can easily see the real ‘Hollywood’ production.” ...

So Indian filmmakers can't win. When they make a visual effects extravaganza, the hinterlands don't watch it and city dwellers avoid the Indian version for a big, super hero picture from one of the friendly entertainment conglomerates.

That, coupled with the problem of Indian pictures not traveling well beyond the sub-continent, means that it's counterproductive to spend a large clump of money making them.


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