Bollywood and Digitisation: A Technical Love Story

1913, was the year of the first feature film in India. Despite being a silent film, its ramifications were not so “silent”. It echoed through the century, establishing a domino effect, leading to what we call today, the digital age of cinema.

Indian cinema is a global enterprise and according to FICCI KPMG compounded growth projection burgeoned 13.9%, from INR 1026 billion in 2014 and is set to reach INR 1964 billion by 2019.

Digital Prints vs. Analogue Prints

Earlier, movies were shot in analogue print (film reels) that were then physically distributed across theaters with a high distribution cost, thus limiting the release of the movies with smaller budgets. With the development of digital formats, the price of production and distribution dramatically went down, with improvement in picture and sound quality.

Several media companies experimented with the technology, namely Real images, Adlab Films, Essel Group and so on.

Om Shanti Om, the top grosser in 2007, was released with 1,400 prints in India (largely analogue).  Dhoom 3 (2013) was released with 4,500 prints with almost 100% digital prints.  (Source: Money-control.com)

Ticket sales and cash flow

The last few years have witnessed an increase in ticket collections, with average domestic NBOC of top 10 grossing Bollywood movies having more than doubled from around Rs 60 crores in 2008 to around Rs 150 crores in 2013.

Film industry purformance tabel_FICCI (1)

Image Source: FICCI KPMG report 2015

Below is a list of top 10 grossing movies from the year 2010-2013. One would notice the distinguishable rise in total grossing amount (in Cr.) every year.

Top grossing movies last 5 years_addtodays

Source: addatoday

Theater number on the rise: Universal Accessibility to the masses

In the last five years, there has been a noticeable growth of digital cinemas even in small towns.  The impact was manifold.  No longer did the villager wait months just to watch a colour-faded film with poor sound quality, enabling the industry to entertain the un-served population, which lay lower in the pyramid.

Evidently, theatre numbers across the nation rose. The figure has increased from 10,167 in 2009 to around 14,000 in 2013. Currently, IMAX plans to open 17 new theatres by the end of the year, according to Business Standard. The advent of 4G, 3G services and affordable smartphones serve the masses a easily accessible second screen.

statewise number of single screen_Film fed of India

Image Source: Film Federation of India 2009

The sci-fi edge of Bollywood

As a result, VFX and animation industries have seen a significant growth in the recent times. With, More than 40 major domestic VFX companies and about 200 animations companies, operating in India are catering to domestic and international clients.

movie posters_google images

Source: Google images.Truly, the power of digital effects is nothing short of sorcery

Animation studios have joined the race catering to films, television shows and commercials. There is evident scope as demonstrated by acquisitions between big players like Reliance Media work Ltd. and Prime Focus Ltd. to name a few.

The upgrade has been  evident, from one film to the next. Not only the movies but both the movie posters and music have embraced the post-digital era.

Top 10 movies with VMX shots_FICCI

Image Source: FICCI KPMG report 2015

“Skyping” with the Stars

Perhaps, one of the most interesting consequences of digital and social media has been the zero degree of separation it has created between its contents, stars and fans.  A comparative study  has reported  the most active celebrities on Twitter (based on the number of followers and tweets per day), thus tracking their likability and cause.

Rajinikanth fans should check out, allaboutrajini. It apparently runs without internet. Well, the techno-savvy will understand the trick up the sleeves here.

An innovation in Marketing and Promotion

The digital media has allowed marketing  and merchandising of movies like never before. Studios develop social media channels for their movies. PK’s initial movie poster was released on WhatsApp. ‘Hiader’s live stream’  was supported by Facebook. Yash Raj Films started social media promotions for Dhoom 3 by releasing a motion poster on YouTube.

Sharukh Khan was the first Indian celebrity to conduct live chats using Google Hangouts to interact with his fans for the promotion of his film, RA One.

Sharukh google chats_India Internet connectivity stats_FICCI_imblive

Image Source: FICCI KPMG report 2015, ibnlive

In fact, understanding the huge pool of opportunities in the field, several Institutes have initiated management courses in “Digital Marketing”.

Social media is like the Juliet to a filmmaker’s Romeo: It’s inexpensive and has global reach.

What lies ahead?

Technology solutions for tackling piracy, ticketing and monitoring platforms, digital sound, post production software need to be explored. In order to reach overseas and small towns, Bollywood needs to pay more attention to detail and address the changing trends in these markets quickly to beat the competition.

Bollywood has been like an immovable pillar since the last hundred years. And digitization is definitely here to stay: the future for the blend burns bright.

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