An overwhelming response for the weekend at over 450 screens across the State

The unrivalled king of the box office, ‘Superstar’ Rajinikanth, on Friday set the coffers ringing to the tune of ‘Kochadaiiyaan’ as the country’s first full-length photo-realistic animation took a bumper opening across the State.

According to sources, the film has had an overwhelming response at over 450 screens across the State. Archana Kalpathi of AGS Entertainment, which has two multiplexes in Chennai, said: “The response has been phenomenal and it feels like the summer box office has finally arrived this year. Most audiences are eager to see the film in the 3D version.” AGS’s two multiplexes in the city , at Villivakkam and on Rajiv Gandhi Salai (Old Mahabalipuram Road), are likely to sell over 10,000 tickets for the film by Sunday. They are having the film on seven screens, with shows starting at 9 a.m.

The ‘Rajinikanth phenomenon’ was most visible in theatres that are favourites of hardcore fans — Albert in Egmore and Udhayam complex in Ashok Nagar. At Albert theatre, Tiruvallikeni Rajini Rasigar Manram secretary ‘Baba’ D. Selvam was among those who performed the ‘milk abhishekam’ for the actor’s larger-than-life cutouts. They also burst crackers and played songs from his previous films before the morning show commenced.

“By Sunday, we are planning to install a permanent plaque at the theatre (Albert) that will list the film career of ‘Superstar’ much like the one present at Shanti Theatre that outlines the career of Sivaji Ganesan,” Mr. Selvam said.

On social network Twitter, several die-hard Rajinikanth fans started sharing details about where they were watching the ‘First Day First Show’ (#FDFS) of the film. Some of them, in reaction to the negative response to the animation in the movie, urged every one to “rise above the hate” and enjoy the country’s first performance-capture animation.

Among the first to wish the crew of ‘Kochadaiiyaan’ and its debutant director, Soundarya Rajinikanth, on Friday morning was Superstar himself, from his verified twitter account. Respected film-trade analyst Taran Adarsh, too, tweeted that the film had taken a humungous opening across Tamil Nadu and that it was likely to set new records.

One of the theatre owners in Chennai said the litmus test for ‘Kochadaiiyaan’ would come on Monday.

“He (Rajinikanth) is too much of a legend and it is tough to determine yet if the film is a super hit based just on the opening weekend. All eyes will be on how the theatre occupancy is on Monday. It usually drops to 70 per cent even for the hits. But anything lower than that could mean the movie is not doing well,” he said, on condition of anonymity.

An amalgam of technologies

Creating the 3D-animated characters in the likeness of the lead actors and bringing the story to life meant that the makers had to collaborate with several international companies. The technology behind the movie is in fact explained in a short video before the main feature.

The film was shot with the actors performing at the Centroid Full Motion Capture studio located within Pinewood Studios in UK. On Friday, the studio put out a message on its website: Release day for Kochadaiiyaan is finally here! This ground-breaking motion capture picture is a first for Indian cinema. It should of course be noted and celebrated that India’s biggest star is embracing this trend in visual effect filmmaking.”

For the post-production work, team Kochadaiiyaan also worked with Los Angeles-based Counter Punch studios. The head camera that the actors are seen wearing in the ‘making of’ videos was provided by another US company, Faceware Technologies, which specialises in facial capture in various Hollywood blockbusters and computer games. A team of experts in animation from both India and China collaborated on the post-production.