Agneepath: The Missing Trick

Note: The analysis in this post is based on data that has been estimated using a variety of techniques. Some of these estimates are also based on qualitative research. Such estimates are valid in context of the non-statistical purpose of this post. Also, all revenue figures mentioned in post are from the domestic box office only.

Breaking News: Agneepath Day 1 – Rs. 22 cr nett.

Breaking News: Agneepath Day 2 – Rs. 11 cr nett., i.e., 50% drop vis-a-vis Day 1.

The film released on a national holiday and broke the record for the highest opening day ever at the box office. Its Day 2 doesn’t even feature in the top 10 second days. Under normal circumstances, a film would drop about 25-30% from a Day 1 holiday to a Day 2 non-holiday. However, Agneepath dropped a staggering 50%.

The most common explanation doing the rounds is that the film is poor on Word of Mouth (WOM). But there is enough evidence from our past work to prove that this explanation is fallacious. Agneepath WOM is definitely higher than Ra.One’s, which sustained for at least three days before showing any unusual drop. No matter how positive or negative, WOM begins to kick in only from Day 3 & 4 onwards, and certainly not from Day 2.

I’m not suggesting that Agneepath has good WOM. Our preliminary data suggests it is somewhat mixed. However, regardless of how high or low the WOM is, Day 2 can’t be explained by it.

What else, then, explains the unprecedented fall the film encountered? To understand this, we need to look at our film audiences in a somewhat technical, mathematical way.

The chart below captures the different kind of audiences a “big” film gets. If 100 people visit the theatres to watch a particular film, some will be repeat visitors, who watch the film again because they liked it the first time. Sometimes, they watch it more than twice. Once we remove the repeat visits, we are left with the unique visits.

These unique visits come from two kind of audiences – Regulars and Irregulars. Regulars are those who visit the theatre at least four times a year. Many of them are diehards, and visit the theatre more than 15 times a year. But most Regulars watch 4-8 film a year in theatres. To film fans, these numbers may come across as absurdly low. Only 8 films in a year, you may wonder. But then, real life has its own facts!

Irregulars are those who watch only 1-3 films in a theatre in the entire year. What kind of people are these, you may ask. These are people who essentially watch films on the small screen. They need to be really motivated to visit a theatre. They would do that only when someone in their family forces or convinces them to come along. A very common example will be a child forcing his parents to watch Ra.One with him, or a youngster taking his parents to watch 3 Idiots, after he watched it with his friends and realized it is a film his parents will enjoy too.

The table below captures data for four big films from the recent past. The total theatre visits (gross revenue divided by average ticket price) have been first divided into unique and repeats. The unique visits have then been divided into Regulars and Irregulars. The last row estimates the % Irregulars for each film, i.e., out of all the people who watched the film in a theatre (unique visits), how many were Irregulars.

 

3 Idiots

Bodyguard

Ra.One

ZNMD

Nett Revenue

203 cr

141 cr

115 cr

90 cr

Gross Revenue

270 cr

188 cr

153 cr

120 cr

Avg. Ticket Price

Rs. 85

Rs. 90

Rs. 100

Rs. 110

Theatre Visits

32 M

21 M

15 M

11 M

Repeat Visits

6 M

1 M

1 M

Unique Visits

26 M

20 M

15 M

10 M

Regulars

17 M

15 M

11 M

7 M

Irregulars

9 M

5 M

4 M

3 M

% Irregulars

35

25

27

30

M = Million

The last row tells its own story. For a film to maximize its potential, it needs to recruit Irregulars. Upto 25-35% of the unique visits of these films came from Irregulars. Why would Irregulars be convinced to watch these four films?

1. 3 Idiots because of the immensely positive WOM and the high pre-release buzz.

2. Bodyguard because of Salman Khan’s superstardom.

3. Ra.One because of an extraordinary marketing blitzkrieg and the festive Diwali timing.

4. ZNMD because of very strong WOM in the corporate and upper-class youth segments.

Now imagine a situation where a big film does not get a significant percentage of Irregulars. What would tend to happen? It will have to rely purely on the Regulars. As a result, it will lose about 25-30% of its potential revenue. Also, the film will tend to have a disproportionately good first day, as the first day crowd is essentially of the Regulars. What we call in common parlance, the ‘first day first show crowd.’

Yes, you know what I’m getting at. Agneepath, with all its marketing buzz and hype, does not seem to have managed to recruit Irregulars in high numbers. As a result, its Day 2 shows a huge drop. Also, the film will tend to dry up faster than most films of its scale and similar WOM. The Irregulars ratio for the film is likely to be less than 10%.

Why could Agneepath not manage to recruit the Irregulars? Five key reasons:

1. Hrithik Roshan is one of the biggest star in India. But he is not as big as Salman Khan, who can recruit Irregular audiences purely on his star power.

2. The Irregular audience base is heavily family skewed. It is also female skewed. Both these segments – family & females – don’t prefer the genre to which Agneepath belongs – Action.

3. The Agneepath campaign was content focused, but did not have an element of controversy or sensationalism that could get the Irregulars interested. Even The Dirty Picture would have got more than 20% Irregulars, because of the hype around its bold theme.

4. The campaign and the PR did not position the film as an “event film”. The promos were fairly appetizing, which is enough for many Regulars. But the campaign did not underline the “must watch” element in the film, that would get the Irregulars to the theatre.

5. While the film is a remake, the original itself is not a very popular film today. It doesn’t have the enduring charm of films like Deewaar, Amar Akbar Anthony, Don, Satte Pe Satta and Hum, just to name a few. The hype around the remake itself was force-created by the media. In a dipstick conducted by us in the week before the new Agneepath released, as high as 31% Regulars had not even seen the original. You can imagine that the number would be much higher, probably even double, among the Irregulars.

Yes, the Agneepath campaign had enough meat in the form of the starcast, an ace producer, a hit item song and media visibility. Unfortunately, none of these are drivers for the Irregulars.

Next time if you are working on a “big” film’s marketing, remember to address the Irregulars as well. They can make upto 25-30% difference to your revenues!

Agneepath will still cross Rs. 100cr nett at the box office over its lifetime. It may even end up doing substantially more than that. Now only if it had the Irregulars on its side too (at least a few more of them), we could have been talking 150 cr for exactly the same content.

Conclusion: Bollywood producers may have got marketing savvy, but the marketing textbook still has some surprises to throw back at them.

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About Shailesh Kapoor

Founder & CEO - Ormax Media. Film Lover. Media Insights Detective. Budding Author. Lifelong Student.
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16 Responses to Agneepath: The Missing Trick

  1. siddhant lolge says:

    nice stdy,i thnk irregulars dnt play role in 1st weekend or week they wil come only aftr hearing wom,1st weekend is mainly depends on fans nd m0vie buffs. . .hritik has huge fan folowin bt nt as big as salman nd srk, nd also m0st of us went on 1st day to see chameli on big screen 😉

  2. Rony dcosta says:

    A really well written piece this one. Do you think that the duration of the movie is a deterrent for irregulars to go and watch it?

  3. aiswarya says:

    i dont get it …salman’s film opened well bcz of his star power and HR’s bcz of republic day?!
    BG z also a EID release .ganesh chaturthi next day again saturday n sunday …BG z also a masala film with superhit songs plus katrina item number..
    even i dont agree abt Ra1 ..the movie ws liked by certain age group n it had repeat audiences too ..118cr.+ for a superhero flick z quite hard..defo it had repeat audience ..
    agree abt 3i n ZNMD….

    btw the star power helped a movie z DON2..no superhit songs,1 week promotion ,movie not for mass centers,more hollywoodish no bollywood masala,no katrina item number..still highest non-holiday opening and 2nd highest non-holiday weekend..and managed 2 collect 110cr. …

  4. pradeep sharma says:

    mere hisaab se second day jo bhi business kiya woh normal hai. balki first day jo business kiya woh abnormal tha. action sanjay dutt ks look dharma prod. hritik fans aur chikni chameli aur sabse main 26th jan inn sabka combonation hua aur first day busoness record tod hua. jis type ki film hai usko dekhne wali public ab sirf single screen mein hi hai. aur sabse badi baat yeh ko single public bhi masaledar yani ki singham aur wanted jaisi movie enjoy karti hai
    yeh movie bahut dark aur one dimension ki hai. india mein aisi movie na to 1990 mein chali thi aur na hi aaj. par aajkal ka jo business pattern hai woh iss movie ko hit bana dega. par sach baat to yeh hai ki yeh purani AP se half time bhi cinema hall mein nahi chal payegi. mujhe aapke rg aur irg par bhi bahut kuch kahna hai par abhi main mobile se type kar raha hoon. isliye phir kabhi.

  5. Amardeep Lakra says:

    The well researched data and very good article it measures the right conclusion for the boxoffice frequency.

  6. celina says:

    wonderful data.its very true that hrithik desn’t have a mega fan base like salman.neither he is that worshiped by his fans.bodygurad (148 cr) was loved by family audience.while ra1(116 cr ) was liked by only kids under 15.only the hype helped the film (agneepath) 2 open well.but i m sure eventually it won’t be able 2 break the record of dabangg,bodyguard.it can not beat don2(105 cr) either.

  7. WOM plays important role , it’s true. i was watching a news channel poll, and i related it with WOM for a movie.so i think there are 3 types of WOM.
    1) YES or positive WOM (like for 3Idiods and Ready)
    2)NO or negative WOM (like ra one)
    3) can’t say (now, this was the case with Agneepath)
    Agneepath was not trending on twitter , means people were not talking about movie, nor hrithik but the movie was creating record on that day(26th jan)…..the only talk was that about rishi kapoor, even mr. shailesh kapoor pointed this in his tweet as i remember.

    i watched agneepath 1st day , and i fall in can’t say WOM.i neither stopped any of my friend who were going for AP, nor i suggested anyone to go for it.

  8. harsht says:

    Shailesh,
    Excellent analysis. First a question and then a comment.
    1.How did you get data on regulars, repeaters vs irregulars on a each film. Is it a projection from surveys? That’s fine – just wanted to know
    2. Don’t you think another reason for drop in Agneepath is that releasing on 26th Jan, a national holiday , it recruited some irregulars along with regulars ( its a holiday, so why not go watch a movie, and a new movie is releasing), but could not recruit enough irregulars for the next days. That could explain why the drop was sharper. Also having released a day earlier and that too a Holiday,, WOM by Saturday would be stronger than it would be for most working Friday releases, no? I am not saying I disagree with any of your breakdown of movie going behavior by audience types ( which is very accurate), but this Holiday release further accentuates this drop in my opinion.

    • 1. Yes, data has been collected over time. The repeaters numbers are based on approximations, but the regulars & irregulars is real data.
      2. Yes, to some extent. It is not binary of course. It is not as if NO irregulars went for it on Jan 26. But for the five reasons mentioned at the end of the post, the irregulars were lower than what they would have been for any other movie on a Jan 26 holiday. Primarily because it’s not a family film (too much action). Yet it did a record 22cr on day 1, because of the first-day-first-show type of crowd, which is particularly high for an action movie. What would have happened if the campaign had worked towards recruiting the irregulars? More irregulars would have come on Jan 26. But then, there may not have been enough tickets available for both regulars and irregulars. So many would have moved their plans from Jan 26 to Jan 27-29. And as a result, while the Jan 26 number may have saturated at 23-24cr instead of 22cr, the Jan 27-29 number would have been much healthier.

  9. Anonymous says:

    You are contradicting yourself. in reasons above you have given on what convinces irregulars to watch a film, reason 1 & 4 are WOM. But as per your own statement, WOM doesnt even figure on 2nd day. So how are you doing the analysis of 2nd day of agneepath on the basis of this argument of irregulars, when they don’t even come to play on 1st two days in 50% cases (as per your own examples)

  10. Rajit Desai says:

    While agree with your theory regarding regulars and irregulars, I do not think that can be the cause of such a drop between day 1 and day 2. My general theory is that there are certain long weekends which are natural long weekends – like Diwali, maybe Id or XMas where a large number of people are on leave the day(s) preceding or succeeding, depending on the day of the week the festival falls. There also tends to be a more festive spirit in general. On the other hand, while a 26th Jan is always a holiday, the next day tends to be a normal weekday. For a movie with relatively low desire to view, the benefit of an early release is lost, with the Friday viewers merely shifting to a Thursday, and then Friday being like any other normal weekday. I am reasonably certain the Saturday and Sunday collections would be the normal percentage of Thursday (and not Friday).

    • Valid and interesting points, some of them. But no, Saturday was not the usual level of Thursday. It was almost the same as Friday, and was thus 60% of Thursday, instead of the regular 25% drop you normally see from a Friday holiday to a Saturday. Also, the Diwali example is valid, but then, Eid should follow the Republic Day logic. Bodyguard released on Eid Wednesday but the drop from Wed to a working Thu was nowhere as sharp as Agneepath.

      • Rajit Desai says:

        Eid was in the same week as Ganesh Chaturthi on Thursday I think, so would have made a difference to Bodyguard, particularly in high ticket priced Mum / Mah. But guess if the drop was so steep on Sat, then this thoery does get diminished. Moves to the two pronged factors of: pull of bhaijaan being much more than Hrithik and the inherent desire of irregulars.

      • Anonymous says:

        Rajit is mostly right. As I had said this is what we call an interaction effect of predictors in a regression model – Content Appeal ( Action, Violence) among irregulars interacts with the fact that the movie released on a holiday, it is a multiplicative effect. -and hence the drops are higher than linear!

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