It was during Brand licensing Show 2015, that Martin Brochestin,SVP Industry Relations and Information, LIMA Worldwide spoke about Star Wars being a ‘phenomenon’ in Indian licensing industry. Cut to present and the licensing fraternity is enthralled by Arka Mediaworks’ blockbuster movie Baahubali and is speculating it to be in the league of tentpole franchises. Released in 2015, the first installment of the movie became the highest grossing film in India, and amongst the top five highest grossing Indian films globally.
With the sequel scheduled for early next year, the filmmakers have rolled up their sleeves to make it a true blue Indian tentpole. Shibu Yarlagadda, the CEO of Arka Mediaworks said, “The basic idea behing licensing program for Baahubalis is to better engage with the fan base. We believe that the world of Baahubali is immense with a lot of depth and scope.” “The movie is one part of whole thing and animated series, live action series or novels, all are equally important for us. While all of them will feed on one another, they will stand as independent entity,” he added.
While this movie has already created milestones, it is noteworthy that for a prolific filmmaking nation like India, there has not been any franchise yet that has managed to outlive its single film existence while making its presence felt at retail shelves. Prior to Baahubali, only DDLJ (Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge) from the house of Yash Raj Films has been able to practice brand licensing at a larger landscape, otherwise licensing is though of to be just another marketing or cross-promotion tool for the movie. And mobile game are the first choice that are launched weeks before the launch of movie. While such activities, somehow promote the movie, two weeks after the release things settle down as if they were not there.
The scale and the spread has been missing so far, something that Hollywood has mastered with a plethora of franchise films. Walt Disney and his creations would possibly be the best example of that phenomenon where the characters are sketched and detailed much before filming and then find a voice not limited to the film release alone.
It is tough to say when entertainment and merchandise take over. In the case of Baahubali, even while the film was still being written, the makers did something unique. “We created a visual design guide which was about the back-stories of each of the characters and the location”, shared the film’s producer. They have roped in the Mumbai-based brand licensing specialist agency, Black White Orange, to become the master licensee of the franchise across the globe for consumer products and brand collaborations and issue a creative asset guide for a standardised merchandising.
In words of Bhavik Vora, founder & CEO, Black White Orange Brands, “There are currently three aspects of the franchise - the movie, the animation film and the virtual reality content. This includes developing two separate strategies for consumer products and promotions for the movie and animation.” Again a challenging aspect since merchandising around entertainment-brands and specifically films has not had much of a run so far in India. Till then, it will be interesting to see the future of the maiden Indian film franchise as it gets ready to create a world of its own.