Paid previews, a trend around for sometime with regard to Hollywood movies elsewhere, has caught on with Chennai theatre owners. It provides a few hundred people a chance to watch the films before the official release date.

If you are one of those film buffs who are particular about first day, first show tickets and drawing admiration from friends, you probably have to get your facts right. For all you know, it might not be the first show of the film, after all.

Paid previews, a trend around for sometime with regard to Hollywood movies elsewhere, has caught on with Chennai theatre owners. It provides a few hundred people a chance to watch the films before the official release date.

Avatar, a Hollywood movie had a rewarding paid preview. It ran full house on the day before the official release in multiplexes in the city. In many cases, the release date of films is hardly noticed by people who only wait for the multiplexes to open their tickets online.

Avatar is not a one-off case, says Vivek Krishnani, Head of Distribution and Marketing, Fox Star Studios. Many of the company’s films have seen paid previews and most recently, Ice Age-3 was one among them.

“The pre-release promotion of the films helps trigger curiosity among theatre-goers. The publicity value also goes up when there are shows before the official release. It is very common in the U.S. and Hindi films too are falling in line with the trend,” he said. Sharukh Khan-starrer Don was one among the first to set the trend of paid previews for Hindi films.

Film industry sources said the revenue generated from the paid previews makes it lucrative option for the theatre owners and producers. K. Meenakshisundaram, Manager (Multiplex), Mayajaal, observed that pre-releases happen only after a unanimous decision among all the distributors. While Bollywood and Hollywood films build up the popularity through this way, Tamil films are yet to catch on.

Kalaipuli Sekar, president, Film Distributors’ Association, Chennai city, does not find the trend new. In fact, many Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan films had paid previews the night before the release date. “When the Hollywood films began it in a noticeable way by publicising their revenues, Indian film industry clung on to it. Our Tamil industry has been a trendsetter much earlier,” he said.

However, some producers described paid previews a gamble, as negative reviews could mar the fortune of the film.