Always strapped for cash,movie producers have found new and willing financiers in television broadcasters.
TV channels,according to people in the broadcast and films business,are striking innovative deals with producers that not only include pre-release buys but also underwriting up to 40 per cent of the cost of the film even before it begins production.
And it isnt just the small producers who are entering such deals,which also imply a new film airing on TV within 40-50 days of its release,but also the big guys.
According to industry sources,Tees Maar Khan,directed by Farah Khan and produced by her husband Shirish Kunder,Guzaarish,directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and produced by UTV Motion Pictures and Break Ke Baad,directed by Danish Aslam and produced by Kunal Kohli,have been underwritten by Viacom18,the broadcast company that owns Hindi general entertainment channel Colors.
Quite a few films releasing over the next six months have been underwritten by some leading TV channels, said a senior executive of a Mumbai-based production company. Underwriting essentially means that the TV channels pay a certain fee upfront in return for exclusive cable and satellite rights of the film immediately after it has had its theatrical run,thereby taking a significant financial burden off the producers shoulders even before the film goes on the floor.
Its a win-win situation for broadcasters and film producers. Bollywood films bring in massive viewership and hence,advertisers. Whereas the mechanism helps the producers recover a significant chunk of their investments, says Rajesh Kamat,CEO,Colors.
Buying a film before the production begins,however,involves a great amount of risk. Hence,some broadcasters opt for pre-release satellite rights. It is safer to take a bet on a film that is half done or is nearing completion. One can then take a calculated risk, says Sameer Rao,head,Star Gold,the Hindi movie channel of Rupert Murdoch-owned Star India.
Star Gold bought the pre-release rights of big-ticket films such as Wanted,My Name Is Khan,Housefull and De Dana Dan in recent times.
Even the pre-release rights get the producers handsome returns,almost 30-40 per cent of the total cost of the film. It is an attractive revenue proposition. These kind of deals help de-risk the production cost to a good extent, said Amrita Pandey,Senior Vice-president,International Distribution & Syndication,UTV Motion Pictures.
Since the exclusive satellite rights are for five to seven years,the channel also gains as it can air the film any number of times,she noted. Also TV channels,keen to recover the money they have put in,help promote the film.
According to broadcasters,films are a sureshot way of getting eyeballs,especially during weekends,when most general entertainment channels do not air much of their original content. Hence,there is a rush among all leading Hindi general entertainment channels to lap up the rights of a film before a rival does.
Idiot box,smart pacts
* Mediocre films,with budgets of Rs 15-20 crore,earn producers anywhere between Rs 7 crore and Rs 8 crore through the sale of TV rights. Big-budget films such as Dabangg and My Name Is Khan fetch Rs 15-20 crore.
* Colors leads the race in buying films. The channel has bought around 30 films in the past 12-16 months,including Tees Maar Khan,Guzaarish,Golmaal 3 and Aisha.