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A superstar, a much-awaited movie and the missing moolah

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Mixed box office reports for Kaala have put Kollywood in a fix

After the loss of many precious weekends in the summer due to the prolonged strike called by the Tamil Film Producers’ Council and the subsequent hike in ticket prices, theatre owners (along with producers and distributors) – who were grappling with reduced occupancy – were pinning their hopes on a big hit that could lead to a revival of their fortunes.

And talking about a rescue act, who else can do it better than ‘Superstar’ Rajinikanth? The actor’s latest release, Kaala, is also believed to be the test for the newly calibrated movie market. Now, the results are out. And, they are mixed.

The film seems to have done fairly well, as expected, in the urban areas, especially multiplexes. But it has not lived up to projections in non-urban areas, especially in the South. Several artistic, political and practical (releasing in the week when the schools reopened) reasons are being advanced to explain the film’s mixed run.

A well-known film distributor said the film didn’t do as well as expected.

“It was expected that it would do be better than Kabali, but it hasn’t done as well. The audience expect a good dose of comedy and action, but this film was full of politics. The audience didn’t like it,” said the distributor.

While a lot of them cite these reasons in different forms, almost all of them agree on the fact that the price of tickets which were sold at ₹200, coupled with the high GST and entertainment taxes, could be the primary factor.

Even before the release of the film, the owner of Kamala Cinemas in Vadapalani refused to screen Kaala arguing that the audience who came to watch movies in his theatre could not afford to pay the asking rate of ₹200 a ticket. This is a surprise considering that the film industry collectively demanded a hike in ticket prices, which was fixed at ₹120 for almost 10 years. The hike was necessary, it was argued, to enable the industry produce more big budget films. It was also contended that it [the hike] wouldn’t affect the box office collections since fans were already shelling out much higher amounts for movies starring big names. However, Kaala has destroyed the belief by performing well in multiplexes, which are patronised by upwardly mobile sections of society but not throughout Tamil Nadu.

Tollywood shows the way

“I believe that movies have to be affordable for a family of four. Selling tickets for ₹200 cannot be justified for smaller movies without any star power,” said Archana Kalpathi, CEO, AGS Cinemas.

Has the market for Tamil films shrunk in size? Producer G. Dhananjayan disagrees.

“It is not that the market has shrunk – look at IAMK and Irumbu Thirai, both have done well. The high ticket prices is the issue,” he said, adding, “We also need to find a way to control piracy like Telugu cinema. It is a big surprise how they have done it.”

Hema Rukmani, CEO of Thenandal Entertainment, which produced last year’s blockbuster hit Mersal starring actor Vijay, said that careful budgeting and newer ways of marketing were needed in today’s world.

“Budgeting for sure needs to be taken seriously with emphasis on pre-production. Marketing is also very essential because just posters and banners won’t be enough in today’s fast world. But again, marketing can only make people aware of your film and will not ensure its success.”

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 3:40:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/a-superstar-a-much-awaited-movie-and-the-missing-moolah/article24250546.ece

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