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Rajinikanth’s 2.0: Why it is a big deal

All eyes are on this sci-fi thriller that is touted to be the costliest Indian film made

November 29 might well be the most important day in the cinema world. 2.0, touted to be the costliest Indian film with a landing cost of ₹600 crore, gets ready to hit screens. The Rajinikanth-Akshay Kumar sci-fi thriller, directed by Shankar and produced by Lyca Productions, will have a worldwide release in nearly 9,000 screens in three languages (Tamil, Telugu and Hindi) and in two formats (3D and 2D).

The long-in-the-making 2.0, which had postponed its release date twice due to delay in post-production work, is perhaps the most expected Indian movie of the year. In North America (including Canada), traditionally one of Rajinikanth’s biggest markets, the film is releasing in nearly 850 screens (all versions put together). It’s interesting to note that four of the top five Tamil grossers at the USA box-office feature the superstar!

Among Indian films, Kabali’s première gross of $1.95 million is second-highest, next to Baahubali 2’s $2.45 million. And this time around, the local distributor is pitching the ticket price at $30, the highest ever for any Indian film. In Rajinikanth overseas strongholds like Malaysia, UK and the Gulf, the number of screens are almost double that of his previous releases.

As per trade analysts, 2.0’s 35-40% of theatrical revenue should be mopped up from overseas markets, including potential goldmines like China and Japan, where it will have a delayed release. Usually, Rajinikanth is one hero whose films fetch almost 20 to 25% of their total theatrical revenue from overseas markets, with most of them not releasing in China. Rajinikanth- Shankar films have always performed best in overseas markets (especially in the USA) and this time, with Akshay Kumar in the cast, the film looks like a sure bet. The performance in the overseas markets holds the key to the film’s final box-office outcome.

The producers of the film feel that the rights valuation from theatricals, satellite, digital, audio and branding will fetch it around ₹400 to 450 crore at the most. Taking into consideration that it is a non-festival release and market sentiments are at a low due to the failure of Thugs of Hindostan, the film’s content, packaged with star value, has potential. The film’s biggest calling card, apart from its special effects, is that it has been shot using four lenses using 3D cameras. At the recent press meet at Hyderabad, Shankar said that the film was made for audiences to get an all-new experience in 3D. “At least 40-45% of the film is driven by visual effects,” he commented.

There is a big buzz about the film in the Indian market. The North India theatrical rights, including the Hindi version, is said to have been sold for around ₹85 crores on advance basis, while Karnataka and Kerala together has fetched another ₹30 crore. Ashish Saksena, COO-Cinemas of BookMyShow, says, “We have seen a phenomenal response for advance ticket bookings across all the three languages and in all formats including 3D. It has been one of the most awaited films of the year and this has reflected well on the advance ticket sales. With bookings from across the country, the film will touch the one million mark even before it releases.”

In Tamil Nadu, the film is being marketed on a returnable advance basis, which means that top distributors have given hefty advance amounts for which they will get a commission. If the film does not cover the advance amount after its run, the remaining amount will be refunded to the distributor by the producer. It is a win-win situation for all concerned as the producers of this film have an interesting line-up of future biggies like Suriya’s KV Anand untitled film and Kamal Haasan’s Shankar-directed Indian 2.

Closer home, theatres in Tamil Nadu are gearing up to adapt to the film’s 3D format. As of now, out of 1080-plus screens in Tamil Nadu, 487 are 3D-enabled. Almost all of them will be playing the 3D format plus another 100 to 150 in 2D. The advance bookings have clearly shown audiences prefer 3D to 2D screens.

Explains Rakesh Gowthaman of Vettri Theatre, “We have upgraded our technology in digital cinema by becoming the first theatre in India for pure RGB Laser projection by Christie, leaders in cinema projection. This will give audiences a great 3D experience. Our bookings have been excellent, as people are excited about the technology.” Ruban Mathivanan of GK Cinemas at Porur has installed the state-of-art 3D and SRL 4D sound system, which only the main screen at Sathyam boasted of till now.

The advance booking for the film in urban towns across Tamil Nadu has been good. Swaroop Reddy of SPI Cinemas says, “We have sold over 1.10 lakh tickets in advance across our properties in Chennai City, which is phenomenal by any yardstick. And there is high pressure for tickets even after the weekend.” In Chennai, almost 98% of screening will be in 3D format and all three languages are being played. 2.0 is expected to break records not just due to the craze surrounding it, but also due to the revenue from the use of 3D glasses, which is expected to push its total gross. Size, it seems, does matter.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 3:02:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/20-the-buzz-about-the-rajinikanth-akshay-kumar-film/article25613646.ece

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