EDITORIALS

Bollywood Publicist Threatens Our Livelihood and Iron Man Coverage

by
March 28, 2008

Bollywood

A few weeks back I start getting numerous emails from a random publicist trying to get me to add two unknown films to our release schedule. Normally I take a good look at the films and throw them on there if I'm familiar with them in the slightest. Being in this industry, I've usually heard of every and any movie, literally. However these two I'd never heard of and I skipped the e-mail; if I catch a trailer or hear about them at another future point, I can always add them at that time. But no, that wasn't the end of this guy. After getting a phone call a few days back and declining the addition yesterday, he threatened to disallow us from covering Iron Man because they rep the "third and fourth billing actors."

After taking his phone call and suggesting he e-mail me with more info and links, I inquired as to what exactly these films were and who they were being distributed by - Eros Entertainment. Again, another company I had never heard of (and that is very rare). He went on to claim they were being released "wide", which I laughed at, because I'm certain I would have heard of them if they were showing up at my local theater. He finished up and sent me an e-mail, which I didn't have a chance to look at closely until yesterday.

After checking out his two films, which were both Bollywood films that I still had never heard of (which need not be named - but that photo above IS from one of them), I decided to decline his request. Until I was convinced otherwise, they weren't really films that anyone would know and would be an odd fit on our schedule. I wrote an e-mail back to him and said the following:

I've taken a look at both of your features and unfortunately we will not be able to add them to our release schedule. I have not heard of either and am not familiar with either, nor have I ever heard of Eros Entertainment. While we do usually try to include independent films, these are just too far off the map. I am not even sure what theaters they will be playing at and I highly doubt that they're going to be in the typical 3000 screen run.

You ready for his e-mail that he sent back to me?

Well I'm sorry to hear that since YOU have never heard of these filmmakers or the distributor, these films will not have a fair shot at being exposed to the First Showing community like others. The fact is that Bollywood has made a lot of news within 07 with the release of Sawaariya and continues to make waves especially in cities like New York and Los Angeles which is why many Bollywood titles are acquiring wide releases.

I wonder how things in this world will ever get better if we continue our to ignore, mistreat and misuse the "unfamiliar."

FYI - I also am working with the third and fourth billing actors (Gwenyth Paltrow/ Shaun Toub) of the Movie Iron Man, which opens May 2. Rest assure we will not consider First Showing for any coverage.

Thank you for your consideration

Marcus Bass
Account Executive
Spelling Communications

Oh I will rest assured Mr. Bass. And you're most welcome for my consideration as well, because I was glad to deny it. I have nothing against Bollywood features, but I believe it is essentially an entirely different medium that hasn't become embraced by the mainstream (that reads this site). We have an "idea" for our site - and that includes catering to the mainstream consumer by focusing on movies we think they'll like. Bollywood doesn't fit into that at all and I'm sorry. Plus, it's our decision to control what ends up here or not, which is why it's ridiculous to threaten us when we make a choice regarding our content.

I thought this might be worthwhile sharing with all of our readers. Thankfully I don't deal with this all the time, but it was an interesting experience that I soon won't forget. And rest assured FS.net readers, we'll certainly still be covering Iron Man.

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  • Heh... I have always wondered why the professional communicators seem to be the worst at communicating, why their grammar and style always seem to be dead giveaways that they couldn't make it in any field which requires attention to detail. I've recently had the "pleasure" of dealing with a professional "communicator" who can't seem to communicate enough relevant facts to get the whole message across in one E-mail; who can't seem to understand that no matter how dark the room is, red on blue is a bad color combination for a presentation; and who can't communicate anything without a PowerPoint presentation. A quick Google on this guy reveals he is also into promoting all sorts of other things, too. In fact, he's been in a bit of hot water with his usual press outlets. /Bill
  • (WP ate my link. Just Google "marcus bass" "spelling communications"--with the quotes--and it's about the sixth link or so.)
  • Hmm
    I do reject the type of communication this fellow has been engaged in, and his attempts to blackmail etc. But I also wonder if you're giving these movies a fair shot. A search of "Bollywood" and recent popular bollywood movies and bollywood actors reveals no posts on FS. Its your blog and you guys of course have the right not to put up whatever you want, but I wonder if your litmus test -- whether you've heard of the company -- is fair, especially since Eros is in fact one of the largest distributors in Bollywood. Again, your blog -- and it's clearly directed to a north american audience -- but it's true that a number of bollywood movies have made pretty strong showings in major north american cities. just some thoughts. full disclosure is necessary that i am indian , although not a fan of bollywood.
  • staatz
    Yea that PR guy sounded like a dush-bag but I wouldn’t mind a little more coverage of foreign films- even if they are from odd genres. Still I understand that this blog covers wide-release stuff so... never mind! P.S. I'm not an East-Indian.
  • Really, Bollywood working with Gwyenth Paltrow?
  • Jojo
    THE HAPPENING is a bollywood+hollywood production. UTV is also producing the movie alongwith fox. UTV spent 25 million and so did FOX. total budget of that movie is $50 million.
  • RedBass
    Good for you stick it to the pushy bastard, who wants to push a totally non-mainstream, or even indy classified movie. Bollywood is for Asia and speciality thearters not main stream Hollywood no matter how much this guy loves Bollywood.
  • I gotta say that you blew it, Alex. Sure, the guy was pushy, but your justification for ignoring the movies is pretty stupid. Movies are unheard of because sites like yours won't cover. I'm not the first person here who would love to hear about foreign and under-the-radar films. While he sounds like a total douche, you come off as a pompous ass.
  • I'm wondering how far this guy will get trying to use Gwenyth Paltrow and Shaun Toub's names as leverage? It's not as if either of those actors are going to step into the middle of this and say "Hey! You'd better give coverage to this Bollywood production!' The actors a production hires has NOTHING to do with the marketing of that production unless said actors are directly involved. Like, if Paltrow was bank rolling the picture and needed it to succeed... MAYBE she'd step in. Otherwise, this marketer is being a bully and should be roundly ignored regardless of if Alex's reasons to leave the movies off his list is justifyable or not.
  • scar
    eros Ent is huge...if you are so into the industry...wtf..have you ever heard of the criterion collection? anyway....eros is into marketing/distributor of Asian films.
  • John
    Scar, You don't know what you're talking about. The Criterion Collection is a privately held company, not in any way associated with Eros Ent. Eros Ent. is a Bollywood company. Bollywood is, like, a step down the ladder from indie films. See, with indie films, you have directors going out and making artistic visions that don't fit the studio mold. Bollywood WANTS to fit the studio mold, so they ripoff Hollywood. They're a joke. The guy who sent him an e-mail's a joke.
  • I appreciate your concern #3, but you're right, it is our site and we have 100% complete control over what we post. I'm making a judgment call based on what I think our readers will like. Sure people might see Bollywood in cities around the US, but you know what, it doesn't fall in line with what our site does and I'm not going to be forced to include it. Personally I think it would be harmful to our reputation if we were to start covering it out of nowhere because as a moviegoer myself, it is not a genre that has made any impact upon the movie world that I am a part of. Like I said, nothing against it, it's just not something for FirstShowing.net and it's wrong to be threatened by our choice like this.
  • Avelanch
    It's hilarious that he felt that he could threaten you, and even more hilarious that he wanted Bollywood movies (movies who, by classification AND content) are completely separate from Hollywood. this site is for the following of Hollywood and Hollywood style independent movies. that is the audience it is addressing and it is up to the staff of this site to determine what they feel fits what the site's readers want to read about. I'm sure there are SOME readers who would like Bollywood exposure here, but would you really want someone who is unfamiliar and may not like what you are selling to review the movie? Thats like asking someone who thinks the big mac is the epitome of cuisine to try out your new fois gras and escargot recipe and then write a review (even though other food critics have already reviewed it on other websites to rave reviews). the end product is not what anyone is going to like. The closest thing to Bollywood that I have enjoyed is the guru from a couple years back, and even that was pushing it.
  • While a majority of the readers on this site would probably like to stick on Hollywood movies, there are a minority of us who would enjoy a post once in a while about movies from asia - aren't a number of far eastern horror films transferring over to hollywood? I'd love to see comparisons of the original asian movies and the hollywood remakes. And if european stuff like Pan's Labyrinth is covered before it comes to the US, I might know before hand that it's going to be closer to a horror flick than a Disney film *shudder* If you don't think it's appropriate for the masses, perhaps have some side feeds for those types of movies? Personally, I would rather see asian movie news instead of the indie movies that just leave me cold. Wish there were a way to subscribe to firstshowing feeds and CHOOSE what you want to see instead of getting the current staple fare...
  • And when I say european stuff like Pan's Labyrinth - I mean, Mexican *headdesk*
  • Icarus
    I can't remember the last time I got really hyped for a Bollywood film. "Oh my god guys, did you see the trailer for 'Sharabi'? It looks so bad ass." I'm sure I would enjoy a handful of these films if I was exposed to them, but they aren't my style. So sure, if you want some information about Bollywood films, then FS.net probably isn't the place for you. Just find a website that covers it. Don't walk into a good ol' American burger joint and ask for some Malai Kofta.
  • The sad thing is that when you compare Bollywood and Hollywood, BW is actually bigger in terms of movies it churns out. And isn't the internet supposed to be about knocking down barriers? Getting some peeps who can bring the latest news on movies from around the world over here - that would be awesome. Finding out about Kung Fu Dunk in the past week made me feel like I was definitely missing out on something - there aren't too many english sites for those who enjoy movies from around the world, no matter what language it is - subtitles shouldn't be a reason to set movies apart, especially on the internet and on Firstshowing.net which is all about having the latest movie news first. At least, in my opinion.
  • Alex - somebody sent this link to me knowing that I feel strongly for the Bollywood film industry and would want to make an input, I hope you don't mind. It really does sadden me that things like this happen. My main points of concern here: - Bollywood has a certain reputation (to the outsider) of being an inferior product & their marketing (psoters/trailers/idiots like this guy) really doesn't help. - Pushy marketing companies like this don't help that in the least There are a number of things that need to happen to rectify the problems here: The Bollywood industry need to better their product so that the outer audiences can't help but take notice. I'll be the first to admit they aren't there yet, & with (mediocre films) that are weak parodies like "the Guru" and "Bend it Like Beckham", that are okay standalone flicks, but are too torn between two industries to actually hold fort, they just further give Bollywood that nod of "Yep, that's what I thought Bollywood was about" to the outsider. That said, over the last decade or so, the industry is taking large strides forward, for those watching closely, there's no denying that. Here, in the UK the bigger Bollywood film releases often hit the national Top 10 and when they do the screen averages (based on $$/print) tends to be triple or higher than the next on the list. Hollywood in particular have started taking notice of this, which is why in the past couple of years there have been large sums of money entering India from Fox (to UTV) and Sony (who've made a base in India too) and suchlike, so that's the first point. Secondly, bloggers and film-sites who foresee this upcoming industry (as I do & Hollywood seems to), they may help by pointing at the cream of the crop. This 'obviously' is the choice of the site-owners, as you say, if it's hit your radar, your interests & your audiences. I wouldn't argue this point at all. The fact he has again just saddens me. His job is (I assume) to get these films on your radar, but instead he's just acted like an internet troll. The muppet has only made things worse rather than better. Personally I think it's only a matter of time before the releases to get wider & so public interest will automatically pick-up, but I guess these marketing people think they are there already (or are 'too' keen - so keen that they forget to spell & make war, not peace). Thirdly, Marketing - A number of Hollywood films have Standard trailers, followed by International trailers, sometimes then followed by Japanese trailers, a trailer to suit the audience. Unfortunately, India doesn't have this sort of marketing strategy (yet). Due to this, I totally understand that for those not interested, the marketing of the films (even the ground-breaking masterpiece types), rarely justifies the end-product & so is easily dismissed. Last but not least, Muppets like this should be fired on the spot. He doesn't even realise what his response is saying. Blackmail, threats, ffs!!! Not only has he pissed you off, he's put you off, and that pissed me off (as well as a number of your readers I note).. & what does this do to the actual aim of his initial mail? I hope you take in some of what I've said & reconsider covering Bollywood. (When it interests you, when it hits your radar.) Well .. I think the comments so far have covered that & I've ranted long enough I think. Who am I? (I don't work for any marketing company, I work in Software) I'm a half-English half-Indian crossbreed who like all 'good' film. Silent Salutes, _ram-jaane' P.S: For anyone who's interested the picture is from U. Me aur Hum (out on the 11th of April - My Birthday). - John of Comment 11: There have been Hollywood remakes in Bollywood, there have also been Japanese remakes in Hollywood. I don't think the studio mould comes into it. People make remakes, plain as. As for Bollywood not achieving a studio mould or making non-studio mould "indie" flicks, there's ample out there that fits both categories, it's just a matter of looking (if you're interested).
  • Glacia #14 - you're missing the point entirely! I wrote 9 articles on Pan's Labyrinth (find them here). I cover every last little indie movie and everything else foreign that I can. I go to film fests, I see everything, and as a journalist, I literally have heard of EVEY movie. You name it, I've heard of it. However, Bollywood is just something that doesn't fit within the interests of our website. I'm amazed that people think they know how this is supposed to run and what exactly we're supposed to be posting when it is still our site and still has a direction. I appreciate Bollywood films, but they're just not an interest to us. I didn't know of these two and combined with that belief after learning about them, I determined they wouldn't be worthwhile adding. That's all!
  • craziemutant
    well done, alex. they can't threaten us! show what ever you want, alex. i'll be here to read it.
  • I think some of the earlier comments come from the idea that not all of us share your lack of interest in international flicks like those from bollywood - not that I condone the actions of the guy. We're not necessarily telling you hope to run your own site. We're telling you what we like to read. It's like you have a brand and an idea for what it stands for but you aren't really optimizing its potential since you're missing the niche markets that aren't as big as the mainstream but in their own way could be just as lucrative as a reader base.
  • John
    Raam Jane #18, When I said they rip Hollywood off, I wasn't talking about remakes. I was talking about, well, rip offs. Similar to how the porn industry handles them (not equating the two industries), once Hollywood has a well-received film, Bollywood takes a crack at an identical film for their own uses. They don't really do superhero stuff (budgets being what they are), but it's akin to making a movie called Steel Man should Iron Man be successful.
  • John
    Glacia, I think there's a difference, though, between what we usually consider "foreign films" and those in Bollywood. Calling a Bollywood film a "foreign film", while technically that's what it is, is kinda like calling a direct-to-DVD Dolph Lundgren film an "indie".
  • John #22 I'm not here to argue, but I think I've covered what I want to say in all there in my initial comment. Yes there are bad films out there, just as there are in Hollywood, but what you are doing is labeling an industry based on a small subset of examples. It's like saying all films in Hollywood are like westerns because you know Hollywood has been known to do westerns. You're just proving my point. You fall under the category of people that I mentioned, who have a pre-conceived notion of what Bollywood is & stick by it. You don't really know the industry else you'd know that there are super-hero films out there.
  • While I disagree with the publicist's tone of his emaii's I do think that you should keep your eye open on the Bollywood film Industry. The Hindi Film Industry is full of wonderful films that would hold up and beat many Hollywood films and many of the actors are absolutely brilliant. I am an unabashed fan I do admit and do write for a Bollywood magazine so I admit I may be biased but I only started watching Bollywood just 3 years ago. I have seen some of the finest performances and some of the best films of any industry in my journey through Bollywood. U ME Aur Hum looks to be a brilliant film and though I understand you not wanting to include it now I would not discount it. Bollywood is becoming more and more popular and I think many would love the new and old films that are part of this unique industry. Jodhaa Akbar a recent release has done tremendously well in US, UK and of course India. Ok before I continue my dissertation I will conclude but do keep an open mind and try a film before you judge!
  • Jim Long
    If anyone has watched much in the way of Bollywood films they would be aware of Eros Entertainment as they have somewhat of a strangle hold on releases, especially in the UK where I'm from originally. But for someone to threaten you to release information on a Bollywood film is absurd, and really actually pathetic. I've watched films from around the world and I try not to be narrow minded. As much as my mainstay is popcorn movies, I have a soft spot for films off the beaten track, and ones that may eventually be covered later more commercially. The problem with Bollywood is that it's basically lazy and has a hold on a large indigenous audience. I haven't seen a groundbreaking Indian film, well almost ever. I've seen a couple I liked, and I think the actresses can be stunning. But most stories are rips from American releases, blatant and cheap rips. And most of the films they release are of 1970's quality. Whereas Japan, Korea and even China are producing some quality productions, India lags behind the rest of the world and I believe that is largely to do with Bollywood and companies such as Eros. I will stick to my Indie releases and probably only watch 2 Indian releases a year, and thats to stay open minded. If Eros wants better coverage then maybe they should look at the crap they are distributing and seek a better quality of production. Its interesting to note that the few Indian films outside of the Bollywood "churn it out" machine have actually had that wider distribution this guy talks about. Funny that. Jim
  • Jiay Quanh from STL
    Number 8 sounds like the bollywood promotor himself. LOL!
  • craziemutant
    you know, come to think about it...i think i've seen something for this movie somewhere...i just can't remember where. i remember the female in the pic, i actually went to find more on her but it turned out it was spanish and i didn't understand all of it or something. maybe that's a whole other movie. haha. i don't know.
  • Manfred Powell
    I have a level of familiarity with Bollywood, and am aware of Eros Entertainment as a distribution company for Bollywood films. Bollywood movies are actually doing rather well at the box office in the West, although that's mostly attributed to a very large niche market. In my honest opinion, Bollywood probably only makes a handful of films a year that are actually worth watching. The rest are pretty poor. What Marcus Bass was doing was obviously an attempt at exercising his influence to force you into doing his bidding. While I don't think there would have been anything categorically wrong with you putting up Bollywood stuff, I do categorically disagree with him controlling the content of your website through conduct that seems frighteningly close to blackmail.

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