The Bharath-starrer 555 releases following the last-minute pull out of Vijay’s Thalaivaa from many screens across the city

The theatre owners have been left in the lurch following the last minute pull out of actor Vijay’s Thalaivaa, leaving their best screens empty. “We have lost the Eid weekend and it is a big loss,” says Rakesh Gowthaman, MD, Vetri Cinemas. This, however, has opened a window of opportunity for “smaller” films such as Bharath’s 555, which has been struggling to get screens. Desperate to fill up the seats over the weekend, the theatre owners are left with no option but to source films or increase the number of screens for films already playing in their theatres. “We have been forced to find alternatives to make sure the screens aren’t empty,” says Rakesh.

Director Sasi, who has pinned all his hopes on 555, however, rues the fact that he couldn’t plan the publicity and the release of his film. “Smaller films usually find it very difficult to find screens as they have to vie with movies of big stars. We have been waiting for a slot for the last two months and have not been able to do any publicity for my film. We couldn't let go of this window.” While directors like Sasi feel that smaller films are not preferred by distributors and exhibitors, theatre owners maintain that better planning will help streamline the process. “Smaller films are doing well these days — take Pizza and Edhir Neechal, for instance. I think exhibitors should be given time to plan their schedule. Hollywood flicks announce their release date at least a year earlier. Bollywood too has been following this trend. Whereas in Tamil Nadu, most of the movies aren’t complete until the last moment. The system needs to change,” says Rakesh.