Rs 1,000-crore film club soon? possible, say industry insiders

The Rs.1,000 crore mark for a blockbuster may seem like a distant dream right now, but it is not impossible, says filmmaker Karan Johar.

"The figure of Rs.1,000 crore is aspirational at the moment. It looks like a dream, but we are not far from achieving it. I feel that we are limiting ourselves with Rs.1,000 crore mark," Karan told reporters Wednesday.

He was talking to reporters post moderating a session "Planning and making a Rs. 1,000 crore blockbuster" on the second day of FICCI Frames.

However, Karan candidly admited that there is no fixed formula to achieve it.

" '3 Idiots' did so had a subject based on education. It was a feel good movie. 'Sholay' was a masala film and 'Hum Aapke Hain Koun!' was a family film. So you can't pick a specific theme. You need to make a good film, which is universal. There is no science to pick a theme," he said.

The session had panellists like Greg Foster, Chairman & President, IMAX Entertainment; Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star, India; Siddharth Roy Kapoor, MD, studios, Disney UTV; Ajay Bijli, MD, PVR; and Vikram Malhotra, chief operating officer, Viacom.

All of them pointed out various problems that need to be tackled to fulfil the Rs.1,000 crore dreams.

Kapoor pointed out that there are not sufficient screens in the country.

"The maximum width is 3000-3500 screens. Places like Uttar Pradesh (most populated state in the country) has just 150 screens and Bihar has 300 screens. We are an under screened market," said Kapoor.

"Also, there is a cap on ticket prices in South. The entertainment tax is also huge. If we make a universal blockbuster like it was made in the 1980s and 1990s, then this (Rs.1,000 crore dream) might be possible," he said.

Bijli agreed to this and said multiplexes needs to perforate in untapped areas to help achieve the goal.

"Multiplexes need to perforate into other areas and enhance cinema experience. Movies need to be made with a higher appeal and if cinemas continue to grow like this, then tweaking the ticket prices, change in the entertainment tax and reducing piracy can help achieve this goal (Rs.1,000 crore)," he said.

The number of screens needs to go up by a multiple of three, said Singh.

Another concern is that directors are not investing enough time spent in the making of a film.

"Ang Lee took four years for his film  'Life of Pi'. We need to have an approach to filmmaking that ensures that a lot is being invested in a film. Directors want to make a film every four-six months, then how can you deliver a blockbuster?" Singh added.

Screening of new releases on TV and DVD releases is seen as another obstacle. Movie watching should be promoted as a quality experience, insists Foster from IMAX.
"The focus should be that it has to be a quality version. You need to justify to someone as to why you want them to leave the comfort of their homes, travel through traffic to come and watch a film.

"The best thing, which happened to 'Avatar', was that people were not getting tickets. This made them want to watch it more," he said.

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