Trade Winds | Movies

February in Kollywood: 18 releases in 28 days

The year 2019 started on a successful note for Tamil cinema. The Pongal releases, Rajinikanth’s Petta and Ajith’s Viswasam, have turned out to be hits at the box-office. Both biggies released on the same day (January 10), with early-morning fan shows, and went on to become hits. It surprised the trade in Tamil Nadu as nobody expected both films to do well in a scenario where screens and the number of shows got shared. But thankfully, it turned out to be profitable for everyone concerned in the cinema chain.

Now, 18 Tamil films have announced their release in February, a month that has only 28 days! The films due for release in the four Fridays of the month are — Peranbu, Sarvam Thaala Mayam, Sagaa, Vantha Rajavathaan Varuven, Podhu Nalan Karudhi, Kanne Kalaimaane, Dev, Thirumanam, Boomerang, Varmaa, 100% Kaadhal, Dha Dha 87, Kazhugu 2, Gorilla, Ayngaran, Dhilluku Dhuddu 2, Kalavani 2, Agni vs Devi, besides a few others who are also ready to jump in if they get screens. It remains to be seen how many of these will actually release.

Trade analysts believe that it is going to be suicidal, as none of the films will get a good release and show timing. And no film, even if it carries good word-of-mouth reviews, will get a decent run, as every week there will be newer movies putting pressure on the release pipeline. Leading producer G Dhananjayan says, “It’s going to be a huge fight among the 18 new films planning to release in February. Except for big-artiste films, others will suffer at the box-office in this process.” Last month, the Tamil Film Producers Council (TFPC) had expressed its inability to control new releases, leading to a free-for-all Christmas season, with five Tamil films getting released on the same day.

The trouble is that there are simply too many Tamil films fighting for theatrical release and far few screens. There are hardly 1,050 screens fit for new releases, despite the increase in new screens. And theatres in Tamil Nadu are also finding that screening dubbed versions of other language films, mainly Hollywood, is far more lucrative than Tamil content without stars. Veteran producer PL Thenappan, who struggled for months to get his Peranbu a release date (now hitting screens on February 1), said, “Making a film is easy these days. The real challenge is releasing it.”

A leading theatre owner said, “In the last three months, Sarkar, 2.0, Petta and Viswasam brought in record footfalls, as they were all star-driven content. Everybody in the cinema chain made hay. But the February releases cannot dream of getting even 50% of the footfalls that we saw in the last three months.”

The reasons are that medium and small-budget films do not get a good release and are out of theatres even before word-of-mouth gets around. There is also a huge gap between the audience’s preference in the urban 3 Cs (Chennai, Chengalpet and Coimbatore) and those residing in semi-urban towns and rural areas. Small films with offbeat content have only a chance in urban multiplexes, while in rural areas full of single screens, they do not get playing time.

However, the producers of the 18 films due in February want to go ahead with their releases. Most of them feel that the interest rate on the loans they had taken for producing the films will go up if they delay the release. The exam season is arriving soon, followed by IPL 2019 and the Lok Sabha elections. It looks like getting a suitable release date has become an uphill task for Tamil cinema producers.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 8:32:50 PM |

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