Movies with small budgets prove safer for producers

Small budget films bring in profits and keep the Hindi film industry running at a time when some of the big budget films have incurred huge losses to producers.

Recent releases of Akshay Kumar, ‘Bachchhan Paandey’ and ‘Samrat Prithviraj’ – with a budget of over Rs 200 crore – have blown up at the box office with a total of Rs 50 crore and Rs 60 crore on net sets, respectively. Meanwhile, ‘The Kashmir Files’, made with a budget of under Rs 20 crore, netted Rs 250 crore net from box office collections alone.

The second biggest Bollywood hit of the year so far, ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ has been produced for less than Rs 50 crore and has raised Rs 185 crore so far.

Experts said that even if a small-budget movie doesn’t earn much at the box office, the chances of cost recovery are higher than big-budget movies, backed by TV sale and OTT rights (higher).

“The success of a movie doesn’t just come from the box office. If a big budget movie does very well, it can hardly break even, while it is the medium and small budget movies that give great returns on investments,” said Sharq Patel, Chief Business Officer at Zee Studios, for ET in a recent interaction. “That is why we have a portfolio strategy. We will continue to invest in small films of Rs 10 crore as well as medium films of Rs 30-40 crore and a few big films.”

Take, for example, “Janhit Mein Jaari”, a small budget film by Vinod Bhanushali that was recently launched by Bhanushali Studios. It didn’t quite fire up the box office and ended up collecting less than Rs 5 crore in two weeks. But the movie did really get the cost back and made little profit for the producers, even before release.

The film’s production cost, including print and advertising, was Rs 20 crore, while its digital, satellite and music rights were sold for Rs 23 crore. Also, the Madhya Pradesh government has provided a subsidy of Rs 2 crore.

According to insiders, the film made a profit of Rs 5 crore even before it was released in theatres.

“Small films may not always be a box office hit, but they can be a good watch on TV or OTT,” said business analyst Shaminder Malik. “And if word of mouth is good, it can be successful and profitable for theaters. This is much better than some recent blockbusters of big stars, which have bombed at the box office. What is the point of making a movie of over Rs 200 crore and not even recovering Rs 50 crore at the box office?”

Bhanushali said he plans to sequel the movie ‘Janhit Mein Jaari’ with a local language version of the movie and an A-lister. “We are getting a lot of offers to remake rights in several languages,” he said. “We have decided to collaborate with leading local production houses and jointly produce the film in Tamil, Telugu and Punjabi with a leading group in each language.”

Vishal Gurnani, one of the film’s co-producers, said, “The film has generated a 54% return on investment in its first monetization cycle and is expected to generate 600% over its lifetime and income from future sequels and remakes.”

Apart from Bhanushali and Gurnani, the other co-producers of the film are Raj Shandilyaa, Vimal Lahoti, Kamlesh Bhanushali and Juhi Parekh Mehta.

Intellectual property rights are with Bhanushali Studios.

The film’s broadcast and television rights have been taken over by ZEE5 and Zee Cinema.

Released on June 10, ‘Janhit Mein Jaari’ is the journey of a young girl who takes on the difficult task of selling condoms in a small town in Madhya Pradesh, despite societal resistance, and decides to educate her family, in-laws and society. In general, an important lesson. A lighthearted comedy-drama that tackles the social stigma around condoms, starring ‘Janhit Mein Jaari’ Nushratt Bharuccha, Vijay Raaz, Tinnu Anand and others.

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