Divyank Upadhyay, 23, an engineering student, was crazy about Spiderman merchandise for quite some time. “Now I am eagerly waiting to buy a Dhoom 3 bike helmet,” he said.
As Bollywood films sprout their own action heroes featuring in multi-film franchises, their producers are ensuring that their larger-than life protagonists touch consumers beyond film screens. Merchandising of these heroes through licensing agreements with product companies increases their visibility.
The products that the yet-to-be-launched Dhoom 3 (slated for a December 20 release) has gone to highlight how much opportunity there is for consumer demand. There are more than 200 products and 20 partners with a combined penetration of over 20,000 retail outlets. Product prices range at Rs 69-9,000. The partners include Mattel, Bombay Dyeing, Steelbird, Ceat, Archies, ICEX Electronics and Parksons.
“It’s time for Bollywood to create larger than life characters and then create daily interaction with those characters,” said Roshini Bakshi, MD, licensing and retail, Disney UTV.
While digital games of these characters have been popular recently, graphic novels are likely to emerge as next big thing.
The products are not too expensive. Ra.One had a 7-inch tablet PC priced at around Rs 10, 000.
“The pricing is done very carefully. The real motive is to allow the audience to take home the characters from the theatre,” said Jiggy George, CEO, Dream Theatre, the licensing agency for Krrish 3, which has products priced at Rs 50-3,500. “Licensing is possible when the movie is a sequel and has very strong, dominating characters.”
“Licensing actually helps in creating buzz around the movies before it go to theatres,” said Taran Adarsh, a film trade analyst. “But for good revenues, the film must be a hit.”
The license costs can be significant. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe reportedly paid around Rs 4.5 crore for the Ra.One rights for its PlayStation games.
“With changing consumer tastes and retail attitudes, special edition merchandise that come into the stores just before a film’s launch, get phenomenal response,” Bakshi asserted. Disney’s Spiderman is one of the most popular brands in India among kids, she added.
In India, the estimated retail sales of licensed products are around Rs 750 crore. The entertainment industry expects this figure to grow significantly. While TV characters, especially the globally popular ones, have been licensed for many years by the likes of Disney and Turner, Indian filmmakers are now promising to make this space a very lively one.