Southern filmmakers embrace two-part franchise for big screen impact

New Delhi: South Indian filmmakers, especially from the Telugu and Tamil industries, are increasingly adopting a strategy of advertising films as two-part franchises, and are planning staggered releases even before the first part hits the screens.

The trend, inspired by the success of films like Baahubali, KGF and Pushpa, is now being adopted by producers for their upcoming films like Prabhas’ Salaar and Kalki, and Jr NTR’s Devara. It involves shooting both items in one, but extended, schedule to reduce cost. Instead of extensive editing, the main focus is on building a brand to improve the recall value of a film, especially for the second installment.

However, trade experts have warned that the success of this strategy depends on the first part of the film and, if it fails to engage with the audience, there is a risk that the strategy could backfire.

“Since the success of Baahubali, everyone wants to build a brand and ensure big openings. Also, it’s high time the first part ends with some sort of cliffhanger,” said independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai. 5.15 crore on its opening day and went on to earn 118.7 crore at the box office.

The second part, released in 2017, opened at 41 crore and clocked 510. 99 crore in lifetime earnings.

The strategy has engaged audiences at a time when commercial hardcore movies with lots of action and emotion are hard to come by, and big stars are failing to draw people to theaters, Pillai said.

In addition, there are cost advantages to shooting two parts of a film without a break, although production costs are substantial and lead actors can also demand large fees. “It’s like shooting two movies for one cost,” he said.

Allu Arjun’s Pushpa stands out as an exception; it was originally announced as a two-part franchise but is currently filming a second installment following the success of the first part.

On the other hand, Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan has benefited by completing both parts within a budget of 175 crore, despite its set period and ensemble cast.

Mukesh Mehta of E4 Entertainment, a Malayalam film production and distribution company, said that announcing a two-part franchise in advance helps negotiate better deals for satellite sales and digital rights. “A higher amount is justified when there is another in the works and basically the idea is to take much more footage than is needed for one film and use it for the second so that continuity is maintained, ” said Mehta.

The strategy, however, certainly comes with its own set of challenges. Not only does an extensive shoot require significant planning and preparation, it also requires significantly more time for artists who may demand higher remuneration. The second find will have no chance of being accepted unless the first film works.

Usually featuring multiple languages, films like this are released wide and can be released with budgets of up to Rs. 300-400 crores. “Rather than editing around 300 minutes of footage, this is a smart way to complete two IPs. Producers are usually safe as digital and other rights are sold in advance,” said film producer, trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar.

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Updated: 21 November 2023, 11:26 PM IST

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