Celebrity screening a headstart?

We give you an insight on how organising film shows for the stars can work wonders for the makers.

Believe it or not, a film’s marketing strategy plays a vital role in selling it to the audience. At a time when over 200 movies hit the theatres in a year, hardly a handful of them are making a mark. While movies with a huge star cast have the capability to stand on their own, it is the low-budget films that struggle to make a point before their release. This is when the term ‘promotion’ is given utmost importance. Recently, 21-year-old Karthick Naren’s debut film, Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru defied the odds and is still going strong despite having Vijay’s Bairavaa as a competitor. What helped D 16 was the celebrity screening that was held days before its theatrical release. Positive responses poured in for the film by the members of the fraternity which gave it the much-needed push.

The concept of celeb screenings is a lot more common in Bollywood as it serves as a marketing tool and an opportunity to know how the film will fare with the rest of the audience. Kollywood, on the other hand, is slowly picking this up and giving its own twist to it. We talk to producers, directors and a publicist to check how a celebrity screening would work in favour for a film in K’town. Actor turned producer Vishnu Vishal is extremely eager to screen his films for celebrities. “When I started my own production house, I decided to screen my films for my friends from the industry. Due to several reasons, I wasn’t able to do that. I don’t see this as a publicity stunt as they may open up more avenues for the film. For example, films like Maaveeran Kittu would definitely need such a screening. Since we rushed the release, it wasn’t possible for us,” he shares.

The Indru Netru Naalai actor also sees this as an opportunity to catch up with films. Elaborating on it, he says, “We have become so busy that we miss out on several good films. So, film screenings are an opportunity to watch and discuss them with industry friends. I am planning to conduct celebrity screenings for my future production ventures. Even though we may be a little hesitant about the response for a particular film, it is advisable to hold such screenings only when you are absolutely confident about the project.”

Popular publicist Suresh Chandra, who has been in the industry for nearly three decades, says that this isn’t a new concept in K’town. “For Rajinikanth’s Mannan, there were shows organised by Superstar, Vijayashanthi and P Vasu. These days, the number of celebrity shows has drastically reduced — it’s more of a cultural exchange in the past. After the advent of social media, people fear the response. If 10 films are lined up for release, then the exhibitors would pick only the films that have received a good response from celebrity screenings or press shows,” he continues, “So directors, these days, are worried about the negative response — this is one of the main reasons for the decrease in celebrity screenings,” asserts Suresh.

The comments from these celebrity shows give the much-needed push for low-budget films. “I advise my clients to arrange a screening for celebrities if they are optimistic about the project. Everybody has an opinion these days and it might affect the business of a flick. The common man cannot be influenced and it is the content that wins,” he quips. Echoing similar thoughts, director Balaji Tharaneetha-ran believes that these shows will help low-budget films get the right distributors. Recently, a screening for his upcoming film Oru Pakka Kathai opened to great response from his peers, Karthik Subbaraj, Pa Ranjith and others.

“We held celebrity screenings for both Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanum and Oru Pakka Kathai. But, such shows should be held only if you know the release date of the movie as it might give away the details. If you have already signed enough theatres, it means your project has already created a buzz in the industry,” he explains. Karthick Naren believes that celebrity shows will be of help when there is no selling point in a flick. “D 16 did not have a star cast or songs. It was a collective decision and with Rahman sir’s contacts, the screening gave us the initial mileage. But, I don’t see this as a trend in Kollywood as everyone wouldn’t be able to organise one. People may not come to theatres just because celebrities endorsed it,” he says.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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