Raees to Sultan: Why filmmakers are promoting movies online

  • Jigar Shah, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jul 02, 2016 18:59 IST
Shah Rukh Khan plays a bootlegger-turned-don-turned-politician in Raees. (Twitter/@iamsrk)

Till a few years ago, people used to wait anxiously to watch trailers of upcoming Bollywood films in theatres, and they would reach cinema halls a few minutes prior to a film’s show time to catch them. But, gone are the days when traditional mediums offered viewers the first look of new films. Now, people can track a film’s progress, its shoot, and of a new film that’s being shot, and know what their favourite stars are up to, thanks to social media. Today, even film-makers and actors aretaking to various social-networking platforms to reveal the first look of their upcoming films.


Thinking ahead

In the past few weeks, makers of four Bollywood movies have released their teaser trailers on social media. Talking about the sudden surge in the use of digital platforms for promoting films, Gautam Thakkar, CEO, Everymedia (an organisation that handles social media operations for various Bollywood projects), says, "It’s a cost-effective way of communication. If you want to reach one million people via TV, you will end up spending at least Rs 2 crore. But doing the same on a digital platform will cost you much less. Secondly, you can track the number of views on social-networking sites, and get an estimate of the kind of opening a film might receive. But, there’s no way to keep a tab on the number of viewers on TV. We could foresee that Bajrangi Bhaijaan will have a great opening weekend because of the kind of response it got online."


Trending now


The chief creative officer of Eros Now, Vaibhav Vishal, says that social media has become an integral part of the company’s content and marketing mix. "We came up with the idea of releasing a film’s first look on the digital platform, as that is where the audience was. We (Eros) were the first to break a movie trailer on digital, instead of the traditional platforms, like music channels, etc. That became a trend and was followed by everybody else. For Tanu Weds Manu Returns, we used Twitter to unveil the trailer first, followed by Facebook and YouTube."


Kangana Ranaut and R Madhavan in a still from Tanu Weds Manu Returns.

While the number of views and likes help contribute to a film’s publicity from a trade perspective, industry veterans feel that it’s the conversation on social networking sites and innovative content that helps create buzz, and promotes a film in a better way. Perhaps that’s why three out of four teaser trailers were recently released on Twitter, a platform that is known for real-time updates and conversations.

Plan of action

"We (Twitter) work with production houses, and help them with ways to go about their promotions. Apart from releasing teasers or trailers, Twitter — which is a mobile-first application — also serves as a good platform for people to talk about a film, and that creates buzz. We collaborate with the makers of various films to come up with interesting content, which is engaging and interesting. For instance, at the time of Happy New Year (2014), you could actually track the movie’s shooting schedule from the tweets of the stars involved," says Pratiksha Rao, TV and Entertainment Partnerships, Twitter, adding that various production houses now follow the audience’s consumption patterns.


Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone in a still from Happy New Year.

"People usually track everything on their mobile phones nowadays. Social media also gives you real-time access to the audience’s responses. Many makers also make changes in their film posters depending on the reactions they get in Twitter," she adds.


Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor in a song from Bajrangi Bhaijaan.

Apparently, digital platform also helps a producer with mapping and campaigning for their films. For instance, Bajrangi Bhaijaan had a multi-lingual campaign, and its poster was released in different languages. Commenting on the change, Gautam says, "Going digital has widened our reach. Once you speak the audience’s language, you come closer to them. And many films will follow this now."

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