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Slick movie trailers cut a fine figure in bollywood

To cut a long story short, 2-minute movie trailers have emerged as a key marketing tool, triggering a sort of a boom in the niche trailer-cutting industry.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Apr 13, 2012, 10.39 AM IST

MUMBAI: To cut a long story short, 2-minute movie trailers have emerged as a key marketing tool, triggering a sort of a boom in the niche trailer-cutting industry.

Cinema trailers are no longer limited to screening in theatres, they are now released on YouTube and as television commercials, reaching millions of web-surfing youngsters and serial-watching women.

With producers spending up to 25 lakh on cutting trailers, up from 3-10 lakh a few years ago, some companies such as creative agency Trigger Happy and post-production firm Prime Focus as well as specialists like Ravi and Binny Padda are making good money cutting slick trailers and promos.

"A theatrical trailer is the most important promotional unit for a film and it is crucial to get it right as everything depends on the perception created by that trailer," says Samir Rao, CEO of Vinod Chopra Films, the film production company of Vidhu Vinod Chopra.

Slick movie trailers cut a fine figure in bollywood


Trailers create a sense of expectation from the film and lure moviegoers to watch it in theatre, he says.

No wonder, besides director and marketing head, top actors such as Aamir Khan and Hrithik Roshan too take keen interest in the making of trailers.

"The potential audience has to get the feel of the film in two minutes and I have to make sure they go to the cinema hall", says Mukul Misra, co-founder and MD at Trigger Happy, which is currently working on the trailers of Kunal Kohli Productions' Teri Meri Kahaani, Vinod Chopra Films' Ferrari Ki Sawari and John Abraham's maiden production venture Vicky Donor among others.

Today, trailers are released online at the same time they hit theatres, and they get millions of views. For example, Dhoom 3's official trailer has already got more than 2 million views on YouTube. Even the trailer of Vicky Donor, a movie made at much smaller budget, has got close to a million views in a month.

Trailers have come a long way since the 1990s and early 2000s when songs took 90% of trailer time and roughly half the filmmakers cut their own trailers. Today, a trailer is complete in itself, like a commercial, and it's always cut by a specialist.

It has a mixture of dialogues, action scenes, item numbers, background music and, in the case of most thrillers, a climax that ends in a question mark. Slick and crisp editing is a prerequisite for a successful trailer.

"We use more of an advertising approach and use computer graphics, motion effects and use the film's music differently," says Merzin Tavaria, co-founder and chief creative officer of Prime Focus, which has cut trailers for Kahaani, No One Killed Jessica and Shaitan among others.

Generally, a big-budget film's marketing and publicity today includes one or two theatrical trailers of 2-3 minutes and 8-10 television promos of 10-30 seconds, which would include 3-4 song promos and five to six dialogue promos. In the case of small-budget films, trailers play the key role of attracting an initial footfall in theatres.

The cost of cutting trailers depends on the number of promos and trailers required. Trigger Happy's Misra says filmmakers today spend between 3 lakh and 25 lakh on trailers and promos. Ravi Padda, veteran film publicist in Bollywood and known trailer maker, says five years ago, a producer would rarely spend 10 lakh on a trailer.

He and his brother Binny Padda have cut trailers of more than 500 films including Ghajini, Ra.One and Rockstar. They are currently working on Gangs of Wasseypur and the remake of Chashme Baddoor, among others. Their expenses include hiring editing studios and editors and buying latest editing and visual effects software.


Padda says the profit margins for cutting trailers is in the range of 25-30%. He says work on trailers now start six to eight months before the release of the film. In fact, the release of Chashme Baddoor is yet to be finalised. Companies such as print and poster publicity Marching Ants now plan to foray into trailers.

So what makes a great trailer?

Nabeel Abbas, CEO of marketing strategies firm Epigram Advertising, says, "A good trailer is not only exciting but accurate too. The film flops if there is disconnect between the trailer and the film."

Marching Ants Director Joy Ghoshal says the trailers of Kahaani and Ra.One were among the better ones in recent times. "They were successful in conveying the appropriate sense and feel of the film to the audience," he says.

Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer of ad agency BBDO India, says cutting trailers is a specialist's job that a film editor cannot do. "Brands come to us in spite of a dedicated and capable marketing team for getting a fresh and objective take on their advertising strategy. It's the same reason why filmmakers are turning to these dedicated promo cutters," he says.

Trailer cutting may have become a lucrative business in India only recently and the industry is too informal and small to track, but the history of film trailers dates back almost 100 years to 1913 when Hollywood studios started screening clips of upcoming films.

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