Movie Re-Distribution- An area of Potential

Traditional Movie Distribution Flow

As a sales and marketing professional as well as a film lover, film distribution has always been an interesting topic for me. It was a few months ago when I was doing a project on film distribution for an entertainment firm, that I realized the potential of the subject.At the very outset I wish to specify what I mean by movie- redistribution. Here I am referring to the entire gamut of activities that a production/distribution firm involves in with respect to a specific movie after the initial theatrical run of the movie is over.For example once the initial theatrical run of RNBDJ is over, whatever YRF does to keep the movie alive among the movie viewers is what I’m referring to here.

Does the end of the initial theatrical end mean the end for a movie?

Of course not, we all know that there’s satellite T.V viewing, video on demand, DVD release etc. But first of all has theatre been utilized enough? Lets take the example of OLLO, all of us know it was unlucky to get released on 28th November, when Mumbai was still simmering under the fires burning after the assault & attack by the gunmen. Though whoever saw the movie has gone on to praise the movie, the truth is not many got to see it because the movie ( though still playing in some places) didn’t have a great run in most places because the people simply weren’t there to watch movies when OLLO released.

Now I would have expected UTV to negotiate with all the multiplexes and re-release them aided by a fresh round of publicity (T.V, print, FM radio). I am sure that this would have enabled a lot more people to watch it. I think there is still time for UTV to do it.A very interesting example of such a situation is a tamil movie called “Chitiram Pesudhadi” which was released in early 2007. Made by a debutant director Mysskin, the movie starred Narain & Bhavana who were not all that popular yet in tamil cinema. The movie was more or less declared a flop & was taken off from most centres in a week’s time.But that was when Aascar Films- V.Ravichandran saw the movie. He is known to understand the pulse of a moviegoer very well.

Immediately on realizing the potential of the movie, he –bought the rights of the movie from the original producer & re-released the movie. This time he promoted the movie aggressively on the basis of one song- “vaala meenukkum” which ensured that the song and the movie went on to be a big hit. Going back to OLLO, there’s something very interesting that UTV has done. Within 3 weeks of its theatrical release, they have premiered the movie (starting 19th Dec) on Tata Sky, thus enabling a lot many more people to watch the movie.

DVD releases– of late movie makers have realized that it makes sense to have the official DVD release of the movie in as quick a time as possible. So today ideally for a movie which hasn’t done too well at the box office it makes sense to release the DVD immediately after the theatrical run is over and for those which have clicked at the box office, the DVD release shouldn’t ideally be delayed beyond 3 months from the date of release. While this is being adhered to by most of the people concerned, what is concerning is the fact that a lot of D.V.D ( and V.C.D) rights holders like Shemaroo, Eros etc have been pricing most of the new releases on the higher side. When the standards have been raised by Moser Baer & T.Series with “junta class” pricing & thus posing a challenge to the video pirates, is it justified for Eros to release the DVD of a niche movie like No Smoking at Rs.299 (now being sold at Rs.149.50)? Movies like No Smoking and Hulla are movies which didn’t get much notice at the box office & hence an attractive pricing would only help in reaching out to more audiences.

Making use of digital sound & digital projection

Today with DTS & Dolby Digital sound systems in a lot of good theatres and multiplexes in the country (even in some of the smaller towns) movie watching experience has been heightened to a great effect. With Qube & UFO, digital projection has also been made possible and nowadays new movies are getting released in more and more centres thanks to digital projection. Yes we all know about how Mughal-E-Azam’s re-release in colour was a successful outing at the b.o. But why don’t we actually see more and more classics or movies with potential getting re-released with DTS/Dolby Digital Sound & in digital projection? Opting for digital projection would enable reaching out to many places, saving money & also providing better quality output. I would especially be thrilled to see a Sholay, a Guide, a Jewel Thief etc being released this way. DDLJ celebrates 15 years of its release in end 2010, why can’t they have a re-release (15th anniversary celebration) in DTS and/or Dolby Digital & also with digital projection.Remember when DDLJ was released initially it was released in Dolby SR and not Dolby Digital or DTS. ( Incidentally Dev Anand’s Hum Dono has gone on to be restored and released in a colour version earlier this year i.e 2011 )

With DTH, the internet, DVD and re-release in theatres, re-distribution of movies is becoming a very important activity for the movie makers and the distributors. For a change it’s not just the opening friday alone to be looked forward to for a movie. Let’s wait and watch what the future holds for us in terms of movie re-distribution.

There’s also the option of release ( simultaneous or re-release ) over the internet and here there are players already like a YouTube or a Dingora doing the job. But in India currently due to the problems like Internet bandwidth ( atleast 1-2 MBPS broadband speed needed for uninterrupted viewing ) & also due to the fact that not many producers/distributors are comfortable with the concept yet due to their fears associated with piracy etc  its not yet a very attractive option. But yes in the future this could turn out to be a big channel indeed.

Note– this was an article originally written in early 2009 but now re-edited and featured.


  1. Interesting, I think regional movies should think seriously about re-distribution with subtitles or dubbed properly in the language of the area they are going to be shown. This will widen their horizon and obviously add to their income. Especially Tamil cinema which has high production values must be re-distributed to the northern parts of the country where few people watch it. For them any movie from the south is a Rajnikant film.


    1. Well yes Rasik the reach of regional films should certainly improve and the use of sub-titles could help.Also some money should be parked aside for basic promotion in the non regular markets as well around the time of release which will help in drawing the crowd!!!


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