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'Bigil', 'Petta', 'Viswasam': What are Tamil cinema's top 10-grossing films of 2019?

Rajinikanth in a scene from ‘Petta’

Rajinikanth in a scene from ‘Petta’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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The five most bankable stars of 2019 are Rajinikanth, Vijay, Ajith, Dhanush and Sivakarthikeyan

The year 2019 has been a great one for Kollywood. Over 200 movies released in Tamil — of which 19 turned out to be profitable at the box-office, suggesting that almost 10% of the releases were either profitable or broke even from theatrical collections and other rights. In 2018, over 180 Tamil movies released, and the year before, there were around 206 releases.

Report card

The movie industry is one of the few sectors in Tamil Nadu which is doing well, despite the country’s economic slowdown and the large number of lay-offs in the auto industry. Tamil Nadu’s auto industry is largely based in Chengalpet-Kanchipuram districts — one of the key territories for Tamil cinema, where national multiplexes like PVR recorded the largest footfall in India.

Kamal Gianchandani, CEO of PVR Pictures, says, “The slowdown has helped the movie business. People seem to want to escape the negativity around India’s economic status by going to the cinema.” As per industry analysts, Tamil cinema box office in 2019 has grown by over 10%, hitting the ₹2,000-crore mark this year, compared to last year’s ₹1,800 crore business.

The top 10 grossers of Tamil cinema depended on the price at which they were sold to distributors. The producers, of course, made money from theatrical and other rights. Distributors who bought movies at exorbitant prices made marginal profits. In fact, some of the figures mentioned in the Tamil Nadu box-office report cannot be verified by independent box-office trackers.

According to sources in the trade circle, the top 10 hits in Tamil Nadu are (in alphabetical order): Asuran, Bigil, Comali, Kaithi, Kanchana 3, LKG, Namma Veettu Pillai, Nerkonda Paarvai, Petta and Viswasam. Apart from this, there are nine other movies in the list, which can be classified as semi-hits.

Star power

A leading overseas distributor pointed out that all top-grossing movies were star-driven. He says, “There are newer distributors in the market who are willing to pay whopping prices. Producers sell the rights to the highest bidder. If you look at profits based on return on investment, the three most profitable Tamil films of the year are Kaithi, Comali and LKG.” G Dhananjayan, producer and trade analyst, says, “Thanks to the success of star movies, 2019 is a far better year for Tamil cinema when compared to 2018.”

Compared to other industries, the A-listers of Tamil cinema had more success. In Bollywood, five of this year’s top grossing movies featured non-star movies, some of which include Uri: The Surgical Strike, Kabir Singh, Gully Boy, Chhichhore and Bala. Similarly, in Malayalam, superhits were all content-driven movies such as Kumbalangi Nights, Thanneer Mathan Dinangal, Ishq, Virus, and Vijay Superum Pournamiyum. The highest grossing movie was Mohanlal’s Lucifer. The five most bankable stars of 2019 are: Rajinikanth, Vijay, Ajith, Dhanush and Sivakarthikeyan, though Karthi and Jayam Ravi are giving them a run for their money at the worldwide box-office. Tamil cinema saw the maximum number of actors who were launched this year. But most of them did not click as much as they would have desired. This may be due to the strong fan culture in the State.

Change is the key

One of the significant changes that happened was the opening of a new market through streaming rights. When Karthi’s Kaithi, which released on Deepavali and became a successful venture, was released on an OTT platform just days after its theatrical run, the move received praise and brickbats.

In other news, leading distributor Tiruppur Subramaniam has warned of a total shut down from March 2020, if the State government does not waive the 8% Local Body Entertainment Tax (LBET), in addition to GST. Speaking about the issue, he says, “We have had a decent year. But the local body tax is preventing the industry from growing. Also, producers have been selling digital rights within days after a movie’s release. This needs to stop. Who will come to the theatre if they knew that the film will be available on an OTT platform in under 50 days?”

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 8:30:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/bigil-asuran-viswasam-what-are-tamil-cinemas-top-10-grossing-films-of-2019/article30395528.ece

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