Happy Tuesday! The box office figures for this week released early, so I already wrote about them, which gives me an opening in the schedule to do a news round-up. What fun!
Pranushka are NOT Married
But they could still be dating! Keep hope alive! Anyway, there were persistent rumors that they got secretly married, they both gave statements saying “no, it’s private, if I get engaged I will tell you”. So, either they are just poor at wording statements (don’t say “it’s private” if you want to kill all relationship rumors), or they are very good at wording statements and aware that keeping these rumors going is very good for them. Or, of course, they really are passionately secretly in love and will announce their engagement and/or marriage at a later date. Keep hope alive! (full story here)
Censor Board Disagrees with British Board
The original issue is kind of a none issue, the British censor board gave Race 3 a higher rating and requested a cut for violence. Not sure if I even believe that part of the story, because usually censor boards don’t actually get to issue cuts. They might have said they would give an even higher rating because of a certain scene and the producers/distributors volunteered to make a cut. Anyway, I find it completely unsurprising that the British censor board found Race 3 too violent and the Indian board did not. Different values, different cultures, different concerns, even a different tradition of film. Race 3 is violent, but in the sort of cartoony over the top Salman Khan way we have all gotten used to. If I were watching it without context, I would probably be shocked and react like the British board, “no one under 12 should watch this”.
The bigger issue is that the Indian censor board has always leaned more towards the “offending religious sentiments” concerns and the “too much sex” concerns, and avoided violence all together. In response to this story coming out, a current member of the board trumpeted the new era of openness and their direction to have as few cuts as possible. While Pahlaj Nihalani, who really loves the sound of his own voice, declared it a travesty that the “Sanskari” era of censorship he ruled over has ended. So, lines are being drawn, the censor board is publicly proudly claiming an openness in contrast to what was before.
But, neither of these statements has any relevance right now!!!!!! Violence has never been a “Sanskari” issue. It could be, I suppose, but it hasn’t been up to now. The British board didn’t react to the implication that Jacqueline and Salman had sex or all the item songs or anything like that, they don’t care. They just don’t like people exploding and getting blood on other people.
So I guess what I am saying is “politicians are being political and turning an issue into what they want it to be to support their statements”. Not the biggest news in the world. (original story here)
Yash Raj Announces Two Movies
Yash Raj is continuing their policy of balancing small with large even in their announcements! On the one hand, producer/director Indra Kumar of the Masti series is working with them to make a “clean comedy” using a group of young people from their talent discovery group. Not a bad idea, comedy is a good genre to introduce new people, if it’s funny enough the audience will come no matter what. And it’s also cheap (usually), so they can make this thing and not worry too much about any potential losses. (full story here)
(Although will anything ever be as good as this song? I don’t think so!)
And then there’s the other movie. A period piece by Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi, director of Pinjar and a bunch of critically acclaimed TV serials. On the Mauryan empire, Akshay Kumar is playing something, and some other actor is being looked for to play Chandragupta Maurya. Or, as some of you may know him, “that old man who throws away his sword at the start of Asoka“. I guess the era of historic epics is just going to keep rolling along then. And also, I wonder who they will end up with to play Chandragupta? Who would look really good in a wig?
Robot 2.0 and Sunk Costs
Everyone deals with this all the time, when are you throwing good money after bad, versus when are you making a reasonable decision to keep going just a little further? The human instinct is to keep going, if you spent $500 to fix the car and now learn it will be another $1,000, you don’t think “wait, the whole car is only worth $2,000, I should just sell it and buy another”, you think “I already spent $500, that money will be wasted unless I spend another $1,000 now”. Or you spend a decade in school working towards a particular profession, then get your first job and realize you hate this profession, but to give up now would mean you “wasted” that decade in school, so you keep going.
I found a study that says the best way to force our minds out of their natural instinct to keep going on a broken path is to focus on the good. If you want to change professions, don’t think about those 10 years in school, think about how happy you will be in your new job. If you need to stop patching up the old car, don’t think about all the time and money you already put into it, think about how great it will be to have a new car.
The problem is, I’m not sure the 2.0 makers have anything like that to hold on to. And this movie has now reached far far far far far past the point of “sunk costs” and into the “are you insane? Why would you keep going?” point. Like the guy who refuses to leave his house when a volcano is about to hit, because he spent so much on the renovations.
In case you missed this, Robot (the original) was a massively expensive and massively successful film by Shankar, King of Special Effects. So the budget and ambition went even higher for the sequel. It was chugging along on schedule, and then suddenly stopped.
Two things happened. First, they decided to shoot it 3D but had no idea what that meant. They just used really good cameras and counted on the film lab to be able to 3Dify it later, which is not the best way. And second, they contracted with an American company to do all the massive amount of CGI and 3D work needed. And that company completely failed, the footage they got back was unusable. They were left with nothing and had to start over.
Now, this is the point at which you say “maybe I write a book on the experience, too bad this movie will never actually come out”. The budget went from 65 crores to 90 crores to, now, 160 crores. It is mathematically impossible for it to make a profit at this point. You just cannot make back 160 crore. Not saying the box office won’t be more than that, it could easily be more than that, but the producer only gets a fraction of the box office, it also goes to the theater and the distributor and the taxes and so on.
I don’t know why they are still going. I guess it is the “sunk costs” idea, the production house just can’t imagine spending this much money and never actually getting a product. But it’s also a lesson in the dangers of, well, all sorts of things! I’ll count them down:
- Again, the problem of the director being funded rather than self-funded. Shankar was given complete control and no consequences, of course he would run wild, just like Anurag Basu did with Jagga Jasoos and Abhishek Kapoor with Kandarnath.
- Trusting “American companies”. I am sure they were very fancy and said all the right words and so on, but just because they are from overseas doesn’t mean they know what they are doing. It’s an odd sort of self-hatred that makes you trust an outsider more than someone at home.
- Gross rather than net profit thinking. This is a consistent problem, the focus on that big box office take without thinking about the relationship to the budget. You see it in every language industry, and in every part of the industry, fans and media and stars and everyone just focused on that big number, without thinking about the actual profits. Robot 2.0 could very well set box office records, but that doesn’t mean it will ever be able to make back it’s budget for the producers.