N.J. Nair

Collection during festival season not encouraging

Proposal to release one film a week

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The growing popularity of Hollywood films in Kerala and the low turnout of audience for Malayalam releases in main centres have prompted the main players to streamline the industry, which is reeling under a crisis.

The good response to Hollywood films Avatar and 2012 across the State is being cited as an indication of the changing preferences of youngsters. This Christmas saw Malayalam super-starrers vying with two big budget films and a Tamil film at the main stations.

Industry sources told The Hindu here that collection reports of Malayalam films during the festival season was far from encouraging and the lukewarm response was attributed to the increasing preference for other language films. The industry, with an investment of close to Rs.300 crore and employing about 2 lakh people, has been battling for survival during the past 11 months. Out of the 70-odd films released this year, five earned handsome profits and four others recorded average returns. Which means, most others did not manage to recover even the capital, sources said.

Films made on a modest budget without big names fared well and those with exorbitant cost did not make much impact at the box-office. The recurring setbacks have prompted the industry to go on an austerity drive and now the trade bodies have resolved to slash the budget to the bare minimum. The association of producers is understood to have decided against granting clearance for projects that exceed the Rs.3-crore mark. This benchmark has been set considering the limited market prospects and the chance for recovering at least the production cost. The austerity drive will also call for a through streamlining of all sections, including production, distribution and exhibition, sources said.

Producers and exhibitors are also mulling the option of restricting the number of releases a week. It has been proposed to release one film a week to ensure that the collection is not be affected. Cut in salaries have also been suggested to the fraternal organisations to keep production cost to the minimum. But for such drastic steps, the industry may come to a standstill, sources said.