A virtual marketplace to help movies make money

A radio host turned television content producer tried his luck in Tamil film production by financing a friend’s film. The film made money. Enamored by that success, he launched his own film, which was a flop and literally left him out on the street.
A technician working with Delloite, whose father was a film distributor, saw his family members lose a lot of money when a Marathi film they produced flopped at the box office.
When the two met, they realized that the biggest mistake in both cases was that they didn’t understand how to sell a movie and make money from it. The result: they teamed up and launched Producerbazaar, an online marketplace for movies.
The startup helps producers monetize the intellectual property (IP) rights of their films by leveraging the internet and technology. In this marketplace, which uses blockchain technology, they identify multiple avenues that producers can access to earn revenue.
“In the pre-pandemic era, when we produced a film, we would invite buyers and distributors for a preview. If they liked the film, we would immediately start negotiations, advances would be exchanged and the hard disk of the film would be handed over. Post-pandemic, thanks to emerging technologies and the GST regime, most of this is done digitally,” says GK Tirunavukarasu, Founder and CEO, ProducerBazaar.
A chance interaction with a senior official of an OTT platform helped Tirunavukarasu better understand the issues plaguing the film industry and producers. His biggest question was why, when the industry produces hundreds of films every year, most of them go unsold. Especially when some of the OTTs have enough money and more money.
Lack of clarity over ownership and legal issues due to financiers were the main reasons. Also, the small teams that manage OTTs could not see or make decisions about all the content being produced. If there was a way to identify and establish ownership, half the problem would be solved.
That’s when Tirunavukarasu joined hands with Vijay Dingari, co-founder and business head of Producerbazaar. With the help of an IP lawyer, they established standard operating procedures for buying film rights and created this marketplace. Over the past few years, Producerbazaar has onboarded over 6,000 titles, over 100 buyers and over 200 sellers. The platform has facilitated the sale of over 100 film rights.
“Blockchain technology allows for opening a ledger for each film and placing in it all the agreements that a producer has signed so far for his film. Once it is done, it cannot be changed. This helps buyers looking for content to get in touch with the rightful owners and has brought complete transparency,” says Tirunavukarasu.
There have been some interesting disagreements of late. When “Manjummel Boys” became a hit, there were at least 25 queries on the platform about who owned the rights to Kamal Hassan’s “Guna.” A search on the marketplace helped connect buyers with the actual rights holder. Another producer, who thought he had sold all the rights to all the films he had produced, found that the international dubbing rights for a film remained unsold. He was able to sell the rights for three years for Rs 300,000.
“Thanks to this platform, we discovered that there are 25 different IP rights that a film producer can monetise. Apart from traditional rights for theatrical, overseas, satellite and OTT, there are rights for subtitles, international dubbing, dialects, gaming, VR and the metaverse that people are willing to buy,” says Tirunavukarasu.
The company is still in its early stages. It has received a combination of grant and funding from central agencies, including the Ministry of Industry, Technology and Industry (MEITY), for Rs 55 lakh. “We have now signed the term sheet with a venture capital firm for a funding of Rs 50 crore,” he says. Once that is finalised, it may well open doors to the wider world of the industry.

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