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Tollywood 40 Crores Club Movies

With Baadshah, NTR Jr seems to have finally managed to secure his place in the elite “`40 crore club” — for the uninitiated, that’s the Tollywood equivalent of Bollywood’s `100 crore club. It’s just that the benchmark doesn’t seem as awe-inspiring anymore. In just the last year-and-a-half, 10 other films — Dookudu, Businessman, Racha, Gabbar Singh, Eega, Julayi, Cameraman Gangatho Rambabu, Naayak, Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu and Mirchi — have done the same. This prompts us to ponder if time has come for T-Town to look for a new gold standard.

Producer BVSN Prasad who is currently producing the Pawan Kalyan-Trivikram film, believes that the “revenue potential of Tollywood has increased incrementally” in the last decade. “In the 90s there was hardly any overseas market for Telugu films and neither was there any revenue coming from satellite rights. Also, the scale of release was smaller. But the market has grown manifold and it’s being reflected in the collections,” explains Prasad adding , “The revised entertainment tax slabs have also contributed to the windfall.”

Producer Burugupalli Sivaramkrishna, president, Telugu Film Producers Council, opines that the filmmakers have cracked the code “Dynamics of business have changed. Earlier a movie’s success was dependent on how long a movie can run in the theatres. These days, it is determined in the first weekend itself. Everybody realises that collections of a movie are directly proportional to the number of prints.

Digital technology has reduced the cost of prints by more than half. So, that’s encouraging producers to go in for bigger releases,” opines Sivaramakrishna.

While movies have been raking in the moolah, a few are of the opinion that social media too needs to be credited for this phenomenon. G Geetha, head of a TV and film production house, believes that explosion of media channels and the threat of piracy has forced filmmakers to look for smarter business strategies to help recover costs soon.

With a booming broadcast and social media, there are more avenues to market a film. Also, word- of-mouth spreads fast. So the best chance for a filmmaker to make his money is to generate as much hype as possible around the movie to maximise the footfall over the first weekend,” says Geetha.

Meanwhile, it is also aggressive marketing that has resulted in movies breaking monetary records. “Aggressive marketing from producers has led to an increase in the number of people going to watch films in the theatres,” says

producer Sunitha Tati. She believes a plethora of socio economic factors like “rise in ticket prices, spike in multiplexes, hike in disposable incomes et al, have contributed immensely in increasing Tollywood’s market potential.

But what’s important to note is that Tollywood has only recently woken up to the potential of films becoming ‘big blockbusters’. “Filmmakers have now realised that if they get their marketing right, sky is the limit for collections. The unprecedented success of Pokiri made filmmakers wake up to the potential of Telugu cinema. Until then, no one believed that a Telugu film could gross in excess of `30 crores.

It had a trickle-off effect on the whole industry, with everyone beginning to push the envelope. The budgets went up as have the marketing spends and other overheads. In short, our filmmakers have cracked the code, the new benchmark now could be `50 or `60 crores,” explains Sunitha. With SS Rajamouli’s next, Bahubali, reportedly being made with a budget of over `60 crore, Tollywood could soon boast of its own `100 crore club, if the movie hits bulls-eye.

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