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Low-budget films struggle to find prime-time slots

S. Aishwarya
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They have to settle for the single screen theatres

Big opening: Prime-time shows in big multiplexes are the most sought after by filmmakers. Audience queuing up at a multiplex in Chennai recently. Photo: K.Pichumani
Big opening: Prime-time shows in big multiplexes are the most sought after by filmmakers. Audience queuing up at a multiplex in Chennai recently. Photo: K.Pichumani

Kollywood is riding high on the success of box-office this year, with a slew of big openings and lavish promotions helping draw the audience.

Accommodating films in the theatres is not an issue anymore, with the rise in the number of multiplexes and as a result, the number of screens. But this has not helped in fetching prime-time shows for movies made on shoestring budgets, say filmmakers.

The big-ticket films that were released in recent months ran full house for over two weeks in most of the multiplexes and single-screen theatres. Hollywood and Hindi blockbusters also managed to get prime-time shows and a couple of screens in many multiplexes.

Small-budget filmmakers, however, say that their films hardly make it to any of the multiplexes most of the time. They have little option but to settle for the single screen theatres.

Even there, the competition is such that the negotiations are invariably for a single show daily.

“Chennai is the sole market of such filmmakers. The concept of shifting prints from Chennai to smaller cities is lost. Most of the theatres in tier-II and III cities no longer take films already released in big cities like Chennai. They now have the financial capacity to release the big movies simultaneously,” an administrator of a city-based multiplex observed.

Given that the fate of the films is decided by the impact that they create in the first week, not all filmmakers stand a chance to compete in such a scenario.

“If the film does not make an impact in the first week, it is considered a failed movie,” the administrator adds. He adds that a film's success is heavily dependent on its release in certain theatres, which can guarantee good crowd during the first week.

The wait for filmmakers to get the good theatres has always been a feature of Tamil cinema but with growing number of big releases, the wait has become longer, says film director Dayalan. His film ‘Paalaivana Solai' was shot in 35 days but he had to wait for more than two months to get show slots in popular theatres.

“Despite getting shows in top-slot theatres in cities such as Madurai, Coimbatore and Tiruchi, we had to hold the release as we could not get a right slot in Chennai. Release time is crucial, particularly if the movie is not supported by grand promotional measures,” he adds.

Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners' Association president Rm.Annamalai, however, said that Chennai continues to be a major patron of small-budget films when compared to smaller cities.

“For filmmakers, C and D sectors have now almost ceased to be a potential market. Single-screen theatres in these areas are closing down faster than anticipated. The number of theatres in Tirupattur, for instance, is now down to one. When this is the case, you cannot expect a filmmaker to rely on smaller cities.”

“The wait for small films to hit the screens might be longer. But multiplexes certainly accommodate them,” Mr.Annamalai says.

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