Director’s Equity Survey (DES) Results

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!

Director Awareness Knowledge Appeal Equity
Rakesh Roshan 94 83 58 45
Rohit Shetty 96 88 52 44
Karan Johar 100 77 56 43
Rajkumar Hirani 77 80 53 33
Sanjay Leela Bhansali 96 73 44 30
Madhur Bhandarkar 93 65 50 30
Farhan Akhtar 98 51 57 29
David Dhawan 90 63 46 26
Aamir Khan 99 41 62 25
Priyadarshan 89 60 47 25
Imtiaz Ali 76 67 42 22
Prakash Jha 94 65 31 19
Ashutosh Gowariker 81 66 35 19
Subhash Ghai 89 48 43 18
Farah Khan 98 51 35 17
Sajid Khan 87 46 38 15
Abbas-Mustan 79 39 40 12
Mani Ratnam 83 61 23 12
Vishal Bharadwaj 81 41 32 11
Zoya Akhtar 80 42 30 10
Yash Chopra 99 14 69 10
Sooraj Barjatya 47 51 40 10
Vikram Bhatt 89 37 26 9
Ramesh Sippy 60 30 47 8
Aditya Chopra 94 15 58 8
Pankaj Kapur 77 36 26 7
Rakesh Omprakash Mehra 49 25 54 6
Kiran Rao 68 39 20 5
Vipul Shah 77 19 33 5
Ram Gopal Varma 80 81 7 5
Mahesh Bhatt 95 11 35 4
Amole Gupte 24 45 29 3
Nikhil Advani 39 25 29 3
Kunal Kohli 64 17 25 3
Anurag Kashyap 74 14 24 2
Vidhu Vinod Chopra 59 5 67 2
Maneesh Sharma 22 17 50 2
Milan Luthria 23 38 22 2
Anubhav Sinha 44 14 24 1
Indra Kumar 13 32 33 1
Rohan Sippy 55 19 13 1
Abhinav Kashyap 58 15 14 1
Mohit Suri 53 10 17 1
Anurag Basu 68 3 25 1
Shirish Kunder 31 12 14 1
Anees Bazmee 25 31 6 0

About Shailesh Kapoor

Founder & CEO - Ormax Media. Film Lover. Media Insights Detective. Budding Author. Lifelong Student.
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23 Responses to Director’s Equity Survey (DES) Results

  1. Anonymous says:

    The Question is Can you put this one into a BO prediction model. Does it emerge significant, compared to say putting Director power as most models put it which is either based on recent awards or recent BO performance!

  2. shrey says:

    Just like Yash Chopra,..Rakesh Roshan rarely Directs so How come he is that much popular??

    • The one word answer to that is – Krrish

      • A says:

        Or That he is Hrithik Roshan’s Dad.

      • Tanyanyiwa says:

        It has been noticed that the CPIO and FAA in rpsceet of IP Offices India, they have been acting shaky and feeling uncomfortable in divulging the information asked for by the RTI applicants. May be this is the position in other departments as well and this department may not be the only department doing so. Since we deal with this department, we know it and point out. However, I had occasion in dealing with the Food Processing department who were too willing to co-operate in every rpsceet. Even to the extent that when I asked for some information, they gave me which prompted the supplementary information to be asked for. On visit to the office (and that too not be me, the applicant but the court clerk), the office people willingly shown the register itself and satisfied the court clerk, considering that the information required would be given in any case if the further application under RTI Act is filed which would have wasted the time and money on the part of the department. It might have taken less than five minutes from the time calculated to find the register, open up the page and making the position understand to the court clerk to his satisfaction. Contd/…

  3. Zen Master says:

    Hmmm quite surprised by the results. Have a question. Did u provide the list of directors ?
    Were directors like Shimit Amin, and Aryan Mukerjee excluded ?? I would hope Shimit ranks higher than Mr Farah Khan 🙂

  4. akib says:

    Despite giving two commercial hits, Heyy Baby & Housefull, why Sajid Khan is not included when the likes of Kiran Rao make a place in the list?

  5. Rohan Sharma says:

    I feel that the survey would definitely be biased towards recent filmmakers who have made successful movies in recent past. That explains for Yash Chopra getting so low score on the 2nd parameter.
    Also, whenever a successful director comes up with his new movie, the trailer goes on to say “From the director of ..”. In this case, movies with directors like Aditya Chopra or maybe an Abhinav Kashyap would stand a good chance of enjoying a good opening.
    Having said that, sadly role of director’s equity in the overall valuation of a movie is quite low in India. A salman khan movie today stands to earn more than 50cr irrespective of the director and a solo Abhishek Bachan or Amitabh Bachchan movie stands to loose irrespective of the director.
    PS: Have you done any research to find out the role of “First Look” in the success of a movie though.

  6. Agree with you on all points.

    First look – Cinematix captures film’s reach and appeal when the first look comes out. It’s totally a function of the first look as well as how much it is promoted. Can’t generalize it across films.

  7. Mohit says:

    Anees Bazmee- 0%. Haha, I hereby forgive all those who buyed that Singh Is Kinng ticket to make it a blockbuster. #Win

  8. APK says:

    Huhu! Kiran Rao ahead of Anurag Kashyap?? Only in your “survey”! 😀 And Rajkumar Hirani ranking lower than Rohit Shetty or Rakesh Roshan?? The man behind Munnabhai films & 3 Idiots?? Really? What a “survey”!

  9. Sami says:

    I’m amazed that someone like Anubhav SInha gets a “knowledge” of 14 when he has directed probably the most marketed film in the history of India cinema, though now I come to think of it, not many of my friends knew who had directed RA. One, if I remember it was more like Shahrukh Khans RA. One, an entirely SRK driven affair.

  10. Really says:

    What was the sample set of your survey ?

    Also unlike the star or a song, director has a 0 face value but incredible value in terms of intangible “entertainment” factor. So asking audience if they know a director and then terming that as Director Equity Value is probably a flawed survey. Maybe you can tell them previous films of the director and then judge likability.

    I dunno but you belittle iit, iim credentials by half-baked stuff like these.

    • Thanks for being critical, but no thanks for being personal.

      The survey is about trying to understand if certain directors have the ability to pull audiences to the theatres purely on their names. Intangible value is a director’s strength, but not the equity of the director’s brand. Read again and you should know what we were trying to achieve through this research.

    • Ricardo says:

      Govt blindly iudrotnced RTI Act but failed to recruit officers to handle RTI applications. Nowadays govt officers esp of IPO’s are already working in a de-motivating environment where there is heavy workloads without any promotions, incentives etc.Inspite of this situation few officers are more generous enough to take added responsibilty and workload of RTI applications. Unfortunately, when some undecissive situation comes in, concerned officer need to fight with legal system or end up with monetary fine instead of getting incentives for handling added workload of RTI applications. I pitty them.

  11. Dipanjan Das says:

    Anees Bazmee’s scores surprised me.

  12. alok says:

    when your list has sajid khan above yash chopra,sooraj barjatiya,etc we know something is wrong abt this survey..
    i mean your last question, i dont think any1 will watch sajid khan movie only if he is directing minus the stars..

  13. Sonny says:

    Shailesh ji, I understand what the aim of this survey was, however I don’t think this could show whether a director needs a film with popular actors or not. Or how the director could contribute to the BO collections. I don’t think Rakesh Roshan would be as succesful as KJO or Yash/Adi Chopra when directing a ‘star’less film. Or maybe I am mad.

  14. tsunet says:

    If actor is director like Aamir Khan, then it would be very difficult calculate percentage of Awareness and Knowledge. Because while deciding awareness, it is likely that respondent may have known him as actor rather than director. On the other hand while deciding knowledge, it could be possible than respondent could not remember his films as director because there are so many of them in which he is acted.

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