From screen to stream: Cinema owners, producers weigh in on spoiler culture - Hindustan Times

From screen to stream: Cinema owners, producers, trade experts weigh in on spoiler culture

Dec 09, 2023 02:18 PM IST

The ease with which spoilers are shared on social media platforms has made it difficult for filmmakers to control the spread of their content

The increasing trend of filmgoers recording and sharing key moments of movies on social media platforms like Instagram has become a point of debate. This practice spoils the experience for viewers who have not yet seen the film. Also, the ease with which these spoilers are shared on social media platforms has made it difficult for filmmakers to control the spread of their content. We talk to cinema owners, film producers and other industry experts about the severity of the issue and if at all strict measures need to be taken to curb it.

Bobby Deol's entry scene in Animal was leaked on Instagram reels.
Bobby Deol's entry scene in Animal was leaked on Instagram reels.

Producer Anand Pandit compares it with piracy and says that it has been going on for years. Technology has just changed the way the content is leaked. And the reason he says is “the hunger to get eyeballs and to monetise stolen content is driving this trend.” he adds, “It’s a serious problem that must be addressed because the hard work of months goes to waste. Also, if the surprise element in a film is compromised then it will definitely affect the footfalls in theatres.”

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Devang Sampat, CEO, Cinépolis India acknowledges the concern around spoilers being shared on social media platforms, but says that they haven’t witnessed a significant decline in footfall due to this issue. “Paradoxically, although we do not condone or encourage this practice, it inadvertently contributes to generating curiosity and buzz among the target audience. The dissemination of movie highlights on social media, while potentially spoiling the experience for some, often serves as word-of-mouth publicity, sparking interest and discussions about the film.”

Trade expert Komal Nahta also firmly states that he does not see the sharing of scenes from the film on reels as a problem. “They aren’t showing the entire film. It’s a 30-sec reel. It acts as publicity rather than deterrent. Cinema goers, who like to watch a movie in theatres, will not be affected by this trend.”

Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR INOX points out how it’s only a natural process and “films that do exceeding well in theatres catch attention on social media as well.” Giving examples of Jawan, Pathaan and Animal, he adds, “It happens because all other distribution platforms in the value chain -- streaming, satellite etc--- tend to do well when the film performs well in theatres.” Gianchandani feels it’s difficult to say if they are impacting the business in any way. However, he shares that “producers and distributers are not happy because this is not the way they intended the film to be seen.”

Action needed?

While Sampat recognises the inadvertent promotional aspect, preserving the surprise and enjoyment for all moviegoers remains crucial. He adds, “We advocate for a balanced approach where the thrill of anticipation is maintained without compromising the viewing experience for those yet to watch a film. The industry must continue to explore strategies to curb such practices without stifling the organic buzz that arises from genuine audience excitement.”

Here BN Tiwari, President FWICE, mentions there is an option to legally deal with the whole matter, but hardly anyone approaches the cinema association. “There is a copyright act under which a filmmaker can file a complaint about their content being leaked. However, no one so far has come to us. May be the problem is at a very early stage and will be addressed and dealt in a year or two,” he shares.

However, Producer and trade expert Girish Johar does not feel the need to take the legal route at this point and mentions how educating audiences about the importance of respecting the hard work of makers and team can help resolve the problem. “The only way to address this for now is through inculcating cinema going etiqquets. Habits like keeping the phone off while watching the movie, or standing in respect to sing the National anthem have also been inculcated over time. We cannot force anyone. So here as well, the best we can do is request people and educate them,” he says.

Besides the already mentioned measure, Pandit says steps can be taken in collaboration with the social media platforms. “The algorithms must be tweaked to discourage pirated uploads on social media platforms. Also, we need stringent cyber policing to identify and take down stolen content,” he shares.

Can not taking phones inside the theatre be a solution? “We don’t like the fact that the surprise elements get leaked out, but stopping people from carrying phone isn’t a practical situation. We have no intention to move in that direction. We will engage with social platforms and producers to find a different way out,” Gianchandani shares.

Crucial scenes leaked on social media

Bobby Deol’s entry in Animal

Salman Khan’s cameo in Pathaan

Shah Rukh Khan’s cameo in Tiger 3

Sunny Deol’s handpump scene in Gadar 2

Sanjay Dutt’s cameo in Jawan

Hritik Roshan’s cameo in Tiger 3

Shah Rukh Khan’s cameo in Brahmastra

Deepika Padukone’s cameo in Jawan

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