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December 14 2018
Can Kollywood handle the overload?
13 September 2018

Starting today, for four weeks, every Thursday will see the release of a big film

There is an old saying that too much of anything is bad. Kollywood is facing an excess of big ticket film releases that looks to spoil the festival season party. For the next four weeks, starting from today (Vinayaga Chaturthi), multiple films are releasing. But what has caught the trade off-guard is that four biggies (₹20 crore plus landing cost) are part of it too — Sivakarthikeyan’s Seema Raja(September 13), Vikram’s Saamy Square (September 20), Mani Ratnam’s multi-starrer Chekka Chivantha Vaanam (September 27) and Vijay Sethupathi’s 96 The Movie (October 4).

 

Chekka Chivantha Vaanam

Chekka Chivantha Vaanam  

 

In short, for the next four weeks, every Thursday is going to see a big release. The trade (producers, distributors and exhibitors) are very unhappy with this development, where every film’s growth is short-lived and eat into each other’s business. S Srinivasan of S Pictures, the leading exhibitor and distributor in North and South Arcot, said, “This mad rush to release will create chaos at the box-office. Earlier, there used to be at least a two or four week gap between big films. Now, it has reduced to just a week for a film to survive and make maximum revenue without new opposition.”

The scenario is alarming as even a film which turns out to be a hit will lose its possible audiences in its second week, as a new biggie hits the screen. The audience usually prefer a new release over a one-week old film which, in Srinivasan’s dictionary, is already ‘old’ as torrent sites and pirates work faster these days. Remarked Coimbatore exhibitor Balasubramaniyam, “There is no time given for an earlier release to settle down as it will be shunted to smaller screen and the number of shows will be reduced to accommodate new releases.”

 

Seema Raja

Seema Raja  

 

Seema Raja is releasing in 500-plus screens today, and a week later, Saamy Square hits screens. Both films are in the ‘mass entertainer’ category and will be locking horns in small towns and rural areas. A certain amount of screens will go away from Seema Raja in the second week to accommodate Saamy Square.

In the past, there were 2,000-plus screens in Tamil Nadu, mainly in rural areas but today, with hardly 1,000 screens fit for new releases, the scenario is different. And, the old concept of single screens playing only one film four shows daily has changed to multiple films in the same time band.

The market is also sharply divided in Tamil Nadu between 3Cs (Chennai City, Chengalpet and Coimbatore) and the rest (North and South Arcot, Salem, Tiruchi-Thanjavur, Madurai-Ramnad, Tirunelveli-Kanyakumari). Recently, Kadaikutty Singam scored big in small towns, while Tamizh Padam 2 did better business in the 3 Cs. The expectation in the 3Cs currently is on Mani Ratnam’s Chekka Chivantha Vaanam (September 27). Breathing down Mani Ratnam’s shoulders is young director Prem Kumar’s Vijay Sethupathi-Trisha’s 96, releasing on October 4.

 

96

96  

 

Shibu Thameens, producer of Saamy Square, said, “My film has been censored and our release date is September 20 for the Muharram weekend. This was fixed a couple of months back. The entry of Mani sir’s film was unexpected, but we cannot push the film’s date as there is going to be opposition to every festival date.”

Another factor to take into account is that the “terms and conditions” of screening big films will change if there are too many biggies. Earlier, for a big film, in single screens, the exhibitor used to cough up 70 to 75% of the net amount to the distributor. But now, is hovering between 60 to 65% in the first week. The Minimum Guarantee (MG) amount given by theatres to the distributor has become a trickle. A veteran producer remarked, “Today, the exhibitor is the king, especially in small towns and rural areas. So when you offer the theatre owner a handful of big films on a platter, he will turn choosy as far as terms and conditions are concerned. I think every producer will lose out 15 to 25% of his movies lifetime collection due to strong opposition and curtailment of shows in the second week.”

SR Prabhu, leading producer and treasurer of Tamil Film Producers Council (TFPC), in a reply to a fan on the large number of big releases, said, “To restrict releases you have to restrict production. Ours is a free country and we have free trade policy in film industry! We are running out of ideas to balance this scenario.”

 

 

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