The main idea was to beat the business of last film of the superstar i.e. Prem rattan dhan payo and Eid release of 2015 i.e. Bajarangi Bhaijaan. It was dual challenge for the company and social media was the most helpful tool to meet the challenge.
Approach / Strategy adopted by Sultan
Film making is a fast pace business with very small window to get financial returns, which usually is limited to one weekend and there is literally no scope for recovering from any mistake. With projects lining up every week for release only few lucky ones get the opportunities of long weekend or not being followed by another big release.
Mid week or festival release is another formula that has been adopted by production companies but this comes with additional expectations from production companies as well as audience and demands more screens for handling the rush.
To keep the audience hooked before and after the release and getting the repeat viewers and recommendation among the audience is major challenge.
Early stage activities: Right after fixing the release date Sultan became famous among the fans one year before the release thanks to the fan following of the main lead. The first look of the film was released right after and it gathered a million views in first seven days. The teaser was released in April 2015 and that received a million views in just 12 hours and became most viewed Bollywood teaser on YouTube till now.
After teaser launch the warm up session was over and it was the time for the main bout now. The official facebook and twitter Sultan page started giving the audience glimpse of their superstar in new avatar and pics of him preparing for the role with trainer Larnell Stovall was shared for the public view followed by the pics of leading actress Anushka Sharma training in wrestling.
To keep the audience hooked their social media page started sharing more and more information about wrestling theme of the film by giving audience knowledge about game, association with main lead and its history in India. This raised the curiosity about the film.
Birth days of lead actors were used to launch contests to keep the spirit alive. On December 27 Salman’s birth day they launched the twitter contest titled, #HappyBirthdaySultan where they called out fans to wish their idol in the unique manner and stand a chance to win salman khan signed poster of the film.
Next was the birthday of #SultanKiJaan, Aarfa Khan aka Anushka Sharma when the page released a trailer dedicated solely to her. #SultanTrivia became a part of the page where they posted few facts about film, one of them being Salman Khan took a month and half to grow his mustache.The stars took to their personal accounts to promote bits and pieces of the film.
Pre release activities: As the music was launched each song was introduced with specific hashtags like #SultanMusicOutNow, #BabyKoBassPasandHai and it was followed by contest where people were asked ‘Apke baby ko kya pasand hai to keep them involved.
Romantic song Jag ghoomya was launched with a contest of sharing love stories and the 440 volt song asked followers to send their lip-synced videos to the song. They also launched a contest fight like sultan and asked followers to share stories of their real life challenges. In the mean time official Sultan game was also launched and android as well as ios platform to engage teenage audience, specially those who were not much interested in the film.
When Salman Khan was named goodwill ambassador of the Indian contingent of Rio Olympic, although it gathered negative publicity but Sultan’s facebook page took this opportunity and started promoting Olympics and athletes representing India in different games.
Salman Khan also took up indirect passive means to promote his movie and long-stretched controversy of the rape comment by Khan was also opinionated to be as a cheap promotional gimmick for the film he also shared videos with his family member to grab the eyeballs. In late stage right before the release there was a series of countdown hashtags that kept viewers on their toes for the release day.
After release activities: Once movie was released facebook and twitter page were crowded with reactions of audience, critics and other film industry celebrity. It was the time to generate more steam for the longer run so it was crucial to keep everybody hooked and make sure they buy tickets.
Stories like fans claiming to going to watch the film for the fifth time, images of people showing their tickets, waiting at box offices and updating social media about that were shared.
New activities were added to the promotion like in United Kingdom team Sultan launched, YRF Sultan of UK trophy at a Bradford theater while in India they organised exclusive #Sultan screenings for wrestlers in Delhi, Pune and Indore.
They also organised @bookmyshow’s BookASmile screenings for school kids in PVR Juhu, Mumbai under supervision of @BeingSalmanKhan for more than 1200 kids.
In the mean time collection of first day was also shared because over the period of the time that has also become parameter for a larger chunk of audience. It was followed by daily collections till end of first weekend.
Sultan earned 36.54 cr on release day which is biggest number for any film in India so far, it earned 37.32 cr on second and 31.66 cr third day and become biggest opener for Salman Khan by making 150.52 cr in three days. Overseas collections were also extraordinary and major chunk of revenue came from UAE-GCC [$ 3.75 million] and USA-Canada [$ 1.69 million].
Sultan became third film to cross 100 cr mark in 2016 after Airlift and Housefull 3 and it has biggest opening week (Thursday Friday Saturday) with over all 350 cr earnings.
No matter if you have a business window of two to four days, with right amount of planning and with thorough research on your audience you can understand how to grab their attention and how to keep them hooked for that particular period of time.
When it comes to entertainment industry, engagement and involvement of audience is the major game changer and if you can get hold on that you can turn 70 cr investments in to 350 cr within five days.
Photo Credit: Official facebook page @Sultanthemovie https://www.facebook.com/sultanthemovie/