May 12, 2010

Big money riding on Bollywood sequels

Film producers are taking lessons from Hollywood and planning sequels of nearly 50% of Hindi movies released in the last four years.

The next two years are going to be the years of sequels in Bollywood. Five blockbusters are getting ready with the next instalment of their stories — Race 2, Dhoom 3, Wanted 2, Partner 2 and Don 2 , and trade analysts estimate around Rs 150 crore to be riding on these sequels.

In line for a sequel, for instance, is Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Rajkumar Hirani’s Munna Bhai. The series made cash counters ring loudly. After the success of 3 Idiots, Chopra is all set to start rolling for the third flick in the Munna Bhai series, Munna Bhai Chale America. Amit Gulati, associate executive producer, Vinod Chopra Films, says: “We have made only one sequel of Munna Bhai MBBS and it was as big a hit as the original. We are now working on a second sequel. Usually if the first film is a hit then the chances of the sequels clicking with audiences is more or less guaranteed.”

Likewise, Tarun Mansukhani, who directed the Abhishek Bachhan-starrer Dostana has already started working on its sequel, Dostana 2. “Sequels of popular movies are almost a guaranteed business because it is sure to generate repeat viewership for characters that people have already loved,” says Mansukhani. Most sequels don’t do well, he cautions, adding: “It is a risk but sequels have a 60-70 per cent chance of becoming a hit. Whereas in a completely new project you cannot hope for a guaranteed success.”

Boney Kapoor’s BSK Network and Entertainment has projects like Mr India 2, Be Positive which is a sequel to No Entry, and also a sequel to Salman Khan starrer-Wanted which would be christened Most Wanted. The third instalment of Dhoom will also make an appearance soon. While Dhoom released in 2004, Dhoom 2 hit screens in 2006. Now, after a gap of five years, Yash Raj Films is planning Dhoom 3.

Analysts believe sequels are a risk-mitigation strategy for most film-makers. Jehil Thakkar, head of media and entertainment, KPMG, notes that “a few of the sequels like Golmaal Returns or Dhoom 2 have been more successful than the originals”. With the first movie, the brand and audience are established, now the film-maker just needs to build on it. Sequels are also easier to sell to distributors.

Lessons to be learnt, of course, include, ensuring that audience do not run out of steam. “By the time a Hindi movie would reach the third or fourth sequel, the audience would begin to get complacent, like it happened in Hollywood with movies like Rambo 4, and even Batman. But Thakur points out that because sequels need less time to write, produce and market, these ensure a faster breakeven for any producer.