South films strike big in north Indian theatres

Distributing Vijay’s ‘Master’ across North India has been a lucky charm for this renowned company which has now added to its prestigious list Superstar Rajinikanth’s ‘Annaathe’, Sivakarthikeyan’s ‘Doctor’ and Dulquer Salmaan’s ‘Kurup’.

All the films have turned out to be blockbusters and it’s not just the producers who are smiling but also their distributor UFO Moviez India. Currently, they are working on distributing Simbu’s ‘Maanadu’ directed by Venkat Prabhu which has been declared a hit in Tamil Nadu.

Speaking about this Mr Pankaj Jaysinh, CEO – Film Distribution, UFO Moviez, says that their foray into the distribution of south films in north India has been extremely successful because they are extremely transparent and work on a very flexible business model tailoring it to a producer’s needs and constraints. UFO Moviez is a well-known name in north India and they have brought big Bollywood flicks like ‘Sooryavanshi’ to the south. Now, they are working on taking south films to till now unexplored areas in the north making sure they deliver a win-win for the distributor and the producer.

So what is the USP of UFO Moviez? With access to 5400 screens across India, they have possibly the biggest distribution network any producer would want to showcase his or her film in. Given that south cinema has gained tremendous traction in the north thanks to the proliferation of OTT networks, the demand for such content in theatres has also increased.

Whether these south films are dubbed or subtitled and released, there is a growing audience in Hindi-speaking states for these films. And the success of films like ‘Master’, ‘Doctor’, ‘Kurup’ and ‘Annaatthe’ in these Hindi-speaking regions has made south producers realise there is a big opportunity they could tap into.

The demand for south film content is only set to grow in the coming years since many of the stories are fresh, innovative, interesting and unique. While some south films are being remade in Hindi, many films do not get the opportunity to be remade. Thus, releasing the film – either dubbed or subtitled – in the northern territory will not just provide access to a wider audience but will also expand the market and business for the star. While a star like Rajinikanth is known globally, Kollywood stars like Simbu and Vijay Sethupathi would gain more popularity and broaden their market if their films were released in the north. Now, producers in Kollywood have gained access to a much larger market thanks to UFO Moviez.

Ask Mr Jaysinh if there are any challenges in trying to get producers from Tamil Nadu and other south states on board and he replies, “Like in any business, there are challenges every day and different challenges every day as well. But we focus on providing the best solution for the producer and since we control the cost factor, the flexibility is much higher. We have access to 5400 screens across India but a producer might want to just take 150 screens since it may not be lucrative for him. We look at the cost-benefit ratio and ensure that we give him the best bang for the buck. Since we also have a large number of screens and properties, we can cross-promote their trailers, posters and so on, across all of them. We also screen the teasers and trailers of upcoming films over a longer period of time in the network and promote them on social media and our digital handles. This is advantageous for producers as well.” Another win for the producer is that if a film does well not just in the south but north too, then the price it attracts for satellite rights and OTT is much higher as well.

NT Bureau