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Bollywood gets a lesson in math

Hrithik Roshan EPNewsIt’s been a bad year for Bollywood in 2010 and industry analysts are blaming exorbitant movie budgets for scuppering the chances of many potential blockbusters.

With film budgets soaring to 800 million rupees and stars averse to pay cuts, high acquisition costs and massive marketing budgets have added to industry woes, leading to more turkeys at the box-office.

“Studios alone have lost more than 300 crore (three billion rupees) this year, mainly because budgets have been so high that it is difficult to recover costs, especially in a market where the first week decides the film’s fate,” says C. Sridhar of 4sight, a company which analyses box-office success.

Studios like Reliance Big Pictures and UTV Motion Pictures suffered losses for their biggest offerings in 2010.

Films like “Raavan” and “Kites” (produced by Reliance) and “Guzaarish”(UTV) were big budget projects and hyped aggressively but didn’t find favour with audiences. But smaller films like “Band Baaja Baaraat” made a profit and the industry is getting a lesson in math.

“Most of the big budget ventures green-lit this year happened at much more reasonable budgets than before,” says Siddharth Roy Kapur of UTV Motion Pictures.

“Guzaarish” was made at a reported budget of more than 800 million rupees and Kapur admits he would be “a bit more circumspect about the budget” if the film were to be produced today.

“It’s a creative success but commercially, it didn’t work,” says Kapur.

This year, none of the films in production that were given the go-ahead by UTV have a budget of more than 450 million rupees.

In a fragmented market, where buying multiplex tickets each week may be beyond the reach of most middle-class families, analysts say film producers should realise it’s all about the budget.

“If ‘Guzaarish’ was made on a budget of 35 crore (350 million rupees) or so, it would have recovered money, because it earned more than that in box-office revenues, both in India and overseas,” says Vajir Singh, Editor, Box Office India.

“But there was no way a niche movie like this one would have made more than that.”

Singh says that only five percent of the 180 films released in 2010 made a profit.

The biggest hit of the year was Salman Khan’s “Dabangg”, followed by “Golmaal 3”. Smaller films like “Udaan”, “Peepli Live” and “Love Sex Aur Dhokha” also recovered money, proving that good content and smart production budgets could prove effective for Bollywood.

Studios like Reliance Big Pictures are now looking at co-producing films rather than acquiring them like they did with “Raavan” and “Kites”. – Reuters

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