With a global box office collection of over Rs 600 crore, Bajrangi Bhaijaan is undoubtedly one of the highest grossing films of all time in India. The movie, with its message of Indo-Pak peace and Hindu-Muslim ‘bhai-bhai’ ethos, is such a popular hit that it is still running in theatres across the country.
So, it seems odd to the casual observer when news of its impending ‘world television premiere’ is announced with much fanfare. After all, why would the makers of a bonafide blockbuster like ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ be in such a hurry to premiere on television when it has still not run out of steam in the theatres?
The answer to this question is a little more complex than appears at first glance. For the production house, one of the bigger questions now is how to deal with piracy. The ongoing digital revolution in India ensures that everyone with a mobile phone and an internet connection is able to watch illegal copies of films at anytime and anywhere.
Rakesh Madhotra, CEO of Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment, explains: “Many production houses prefer to sell television rights even before the film is made. If the movie premieres on television within a few months, it helps in two ways. One is that it helps to undercut the threat of movie piracy. The other is that it helps to keep interest in the film alive, while it is still fresh in the audience’s mind.”
The desire to capitalize and build on the momentum generated by a film’s release and box office status (in the case of hit films, usually), is also the deciding factor in when television channels choose to broadcast the movies. The reasoning is that the greater a movie’s recent recall value, the more eyeballs its television premiere will garner.
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Until a few years ago, most films, regardless of their fate at the box office, would hype up their “world television premiere” but this was because at the time even general entertainment channels had got into the game in a big way. Now the trend has changed and most GECs go only with the big hits, since they don’t have to rely too much on movies to generate TRPs. Movie channels end up showing a wider variety of films because of obvious reasons.
While most television rights deals are inked in with production houses, certain stars such as Salman Khan and Ajay Devgan will have their own deals with TV channels. “In such cases, the TV channels will sign up for the telecast premieres of a certain set number of movies by that star,” says an industry insider.