Why Salman Khan compensating distributors for Tubelight losses sets a bad precedent

Bikram Vohra

Jul,12 2017 14:00 32 IST

There seems to be no legal or moral reason for Salman Khan to reimburse distributors for their losses after his film Tubelight flickered out at the box office.

While it is generous of him and his father, Salim Khan, to suggest it, distributors take a gamble like anyone else and invest in an endeavour because they believe it will make profit. That is common sense. The motivation was to get rich — same as betting on a horse at the races. Everyone wins together or loses together. The distributors don’t go around giving the producers their share of the profit when a movie hits the stratosphere like Tare Zameen Par, so if a movie bombs... well, tough luck.

Salman Khan in a still from Tubelight. Image via Twitter

Salman Khan in a still from Tubelight. Image via Twitter

Tubelight’s failure highlights that there is no such thing as a 'guaranteed' hit. Even Virat Kohli gets out for a duck now and then. So all these distributors must have been desperate to get their hand in the cookie jar before the release, thinking they were onto a good thing — and more importantly, a sure thing. If they saw a preview, they clearly assumed the movie would soar to the top of the charts. Here take our money, please, pretty please, just take it. Didn’t some of them say, whoa, this movie hasn’t got the Salman magic, let’s hedge our bets?

Now that the moolah hasn’t rolled in, calling on Salman to start off a negotiation and asking to be compensated is hardly fair. These guys took a chance on the favourite and it fell down and broke a leg.

Read on Firstpost — Salman Khan to compensate distributors over Tubelight's failure at box office, confirms Salim Khan

Salman’s father Salim Khan has been quoted in Firstpost as saying, “When a distributor suffers a loss, the producer needs to show some responsibility and share the burden. We, too, have done the same thing. We met a few of them and are trying to find a middle ground. We will pay back the distributors.”

It leaves one nonplussed. Good of him to say so, but why? Khan has also lost money, these are not babies from whom candy was stolen. These distributors are hardcore businessmen whose singular aim is to put money up to make money. Salman Khan did not force them to opt for the distribution of this film.

To compensate them for bad judgement is to create an unhealthy precedent and place every producer in jeopardy in future. Especially in cases of partial ‘blackouts’ where the movie does not do well. There will always be pockets of resistance to a film when it is distorted through the prism of regional sentiments and priorities. If distributors start whining every time they lose a rupee, the movie makers will never earn a profit.

You put money in the stock market and take your chances. Same difference.

Also, the movie is only three weeks old and could still make a little more money before fading away. TV rights and reruns and a feed from the global diaspora and ironically the contribution from Chinese audiences to the coffers could still see distributors covering their losses.

That’s not what they are peeved about. It is the lack of big wins that is got them in a twist.

Published Date: Jul 12, 2017 14:00 PM | Updated Date: Jul 12, 2017 14:03 PM