In the trade circles, directors are often spoken about as key drivers of a film’s box office business. However, when you ask the consumers, the primary drivers that emerge are starcast, songs, theme/ genre and promo execution. These are the four things that influence the audience the most to watch a new film in a theatre on the first weekend. Thereafter, the word-of-mouth anyway takes over and the film carves its own future, based on its content.
But does the director play a role at all, even though it may be a secondary role? To answer this, we conducted a 16-city large sample Director’s Equity Survey (DES) in Jan-Feb 2012. Cine goers were asked questions about 45 Bollywood directors. The criterion for selection of the 45 was their perceived familiarity. However, we may have missed out on some names. Please share feedback and we will cover them in the update in March.
For each director, three questions were asked:
Q1: Awareness – Have you heard of the name XYZ? The Awareness scores in the table below reflect the % respondents who knew the person by name.
Q2: Knowledge – Which films has XYZ directed? Only those who were aware of the person were asked this question. The principal behind this question is that while you may have heard of a director’s name, it does not translate into any equity till you can name at least one film directed by him/ her. Knowledge score is defined as the % respondents who could name at least one film by the director. Expectedly, directors who have made only 1-2 films (e.g. Zoya Akhtar) and those who haven’t been very active of late (e.g. Yash Chopra and Vidhu Vinod Chopra) will be at a disadvantage on this parameter.
Q3: Appeal – If a new film directed by XYZ is releasing, will you watch that film in a theatre, purely because of the director? Only those who could name at least one film directed by the person were asked this question. The Appeal scores in the table below reflect the % respondents for whom the director was strong enough to get them to the theatre, irrespective of starcast, promos, genre or songs.
The final Equity score was calculated as a combination of these three factors. Let’s look at an example to understand the calculations better. 98% respondents were aware of Farah Khan (Q1). So her Awareness score is 98%. These were asked to name films directed by her (Q2). 51% of the 98% could name at least one of her three films – Main Hoon Naa, Om Shanti Om or Tees Maar Khan. Hence, her Knowledge score is 51%. These were asked if they will go to a theatre to watch a new film because Farah Khan has directed it (Q3). 35% agreed, which is her Appeal score. Her overall Equity score is 35% of 51% of 98% = 17%. That is, 17% of cine-goers knew Farah Khan, could name one of her films, and agreed that she was a “driver” enough for them to visit a theatre to watch a film directed by her.
I’ll let the table below tell its own story. The top three are separated from the rest by a wide margin. Most directors are below 15% Equity. But that is no shame. It is important to clarify that none of this data is about a director’s content delivery abilities. It is about their brand equity to create audience pull. In a star-driven country, we never expected more than a dozen to have any significant impact anyway. And this research proves the same in a structured, scientific manner.
Happy table reading!
|Sanjay Leela Bhansali||96||73||44||30|
|Rakesh Omprakash Mehra||49||25||54||6|
|Ram Gopal Varma||80||81||7||5|
|Vidhu Vinod Chopra||59||5||67||2|