‘Overseas market growing around 10% every year’
In 2017, Tamil movies scored well in the overseas market with a 10% – 15% increase in overall box office collections. Actor Vijay starrer, Mersal, which was released for Diwali, managed to rake in more than ₹70 crore during the first two weeks in the overseas market.
“The overseas market for Tamil films is widening every year by at least 10%,” said entertainment industry analyst, Sreedhar Pillai. “Malaysia and Singapore are big markets for Tamil films and we are number one there. In other markets, we are in the second or third slot. With Internet penetration and social media, more and more youngsters who are living overseas are getting hooked to Tamil films,” he added.
A veteran distributor, who has been distributing Tamil movies to the overseas market for more than two decades, said, “The overseas market is a vast ocean and even non-Tamils queue up to watch big movies that get released there.”
Producer Sashikanth, whose production house YNOT Studios delivered a massive box office success with Vikram Veda, featuring actors Vijay Sethupathy and R. Madhavan, said that more needed to be done to increase the revenue of Tamil films in overseas markets.
“We have to go to each of these big movie markets and market our films. We cannot sit in Chennai and hope that our films would break these barriers. We have to explore more,” said producer Sashikanth of YNOT Studios.
Stating that the film industry must be more ‘professional’ in the way it conducted business, he said, “There is uncertainty about the release of most of our films. We are even unable to open advance bookings abroad because the release dates are very tentative. Only by ensuring a well-planned, systematic release schedule, we can think of expanding our markets abroad.”
Producer S.R. Prabhu, whose film Aruvi has opened to good reviews and has been termed a box-office success, said that overseas markets mimicked the local markets. Aruvi has released in over 60 screens across the U.S., Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka, raking in more than $40,000 in the U.S. alone since its release on Friday.
Underlining that factors such as piracy, release of a Hollywood biggie, the size and profile of the market and how aggressively the distributor marketed a film were responsible for success, he said, “It depends from market to market. There was a belief that only wholesome family entertainers do well abroad, but Vikram Veda broke that belief,” he said
Arguing that piracy was a huge disadvantage when it came to expanding revenue, he said, “It eats into revenue. So, now, after producers started selling movies to legal websites, the U.S. market has shrunk while the Telugu market has grown. People living abroad have got used to watching movies in the first week. Producers need to be smarter.”