The phenomenon of paid previews, which are common in Hollywood, is fast catching up in Bollywood, with producers hoping to create a buzz hours before the release of a film. Through paid previews, select audience can watch the film a day before its general release by paying extra. One of the first such instances was Shah Rukh Khan starrer Don: The Chase Begins Again in 2006.
"You need to know about your product before you decide to go ahead and host a preview show," says filmmaker Karan Johar, who organised paid previews of both his films — Wake Up Sid and Kurbaan.
Director Raj Kumar Hirani is set to host multiple paid previews of 3 Idiots. “If a film has to work well, it will, even if it opens a night earlier. I guess it’s a good marketing tool,” he says.
But some filmmakers do not want to expose their films to early criticism. “I will never host a paid preview again. Some people spread SMSs regardless of the fact whether your film is actually good or bad,” says a director on condition of anonymity.
Aamir Khan’s Ghajini is the biggest revenue earner when it comes to paid previews, but it turned out to be a disastrous decision for Akshay Kumar starrer Chandni Chowk To China where negative reviews spread like a wild fire.