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Why Christmas 2018 is the best weekend for Tamil films

There’s a lot of pressure on Tamil Nadu’s theatres, even as five big Tamil films are slotted for release next week

The Christmas weekend, starting December 21, will see the release of an unusually large number of star-packed Tamil films. It is turning out to be the biggest free-for-all weekend at the Kollywood box-office. The films that are set for release include Jayam Ravi’s Adanga Maru, Dhanush’s Maari 2, Vijay Sethupathi’s Seethakaathi (on December 20), Vishnu Vishal’s Silukkuvarpatti Singam and the Sivarthikeyan-produced Kanaa. In addition, the big-budget Kannada film KGF, dubbed into Tamil, is also hitting screens, along with Shah Rukh Khan’s eagerly-awaited Zero.

All this is happening at a time when Rajinikanth’s 2.0 is doing well in urban centres in Tamil Nadu and is likely to continue till Pongal in some screens. Hollywood action fantasy adventure Aquaman, which opened in China last week, is slated for a big India release on December 14. The film, with advanced motion capture in 3D, is also having a Tamil version and is expected to bring in more audiences during the Christmas weekend.

The big question is: where are the screens in Tamil Nadu for all these?

The powerful Tamil Film Producers Council (TFPC), which had over the last year been controlling Tamil film releases, has to take up some of the blame for this glut in releases. After the 48-day “no new release” strike early this year, the TFPC had set up a Release Regulation Committee (RRC) to monitor the number of film releases. However, the Council could not strictly adhere to it as some influential producers flouted the rules and released their films, resulting in small producers suffered. Being pushed to a wall, TFPC has disbanded the RRC (they claim it’s a temporary arrangement) and this means that it is virtually a free-for-all for the next one month, till the Pongal release season is over.

Once TFPC washed their hands off the issue, every producer has rushed in to release their projects. This has now snowballed into a major controversy as there are now not enough screens in the State to release the five star films next week. There are about 1,100-odd screens in the State, out of which 930 are release stations. If all the five films release, the screens will have to be shared on an almost equal basis. Today, a popular hero film releases in 350 to 400 screens, while a superstar film like Rajinikanth, Vijay or Ajith can easily garner 600 to 700 screens in Tamil Nadu. The number of screens and shows allotted for the opening weekend are crucial for any film to take an opening.

The issue isn’t big as far as multiplexes are concerned because they have many screens, but 92% of them are situated in 3 C’s – Chennai city, Chengalpet and Coimbatore. The rest of Tamil Nadu is made up of single or double screens, with limited seating capacity. In a town like Tirunelveli, there are eight screens — out of which only six are air conditioned and fit to release new films. Explains Ramasamy Raja, managing director of Ram Muthuram theatres in Tirunelveli, “The situation is alarming, especially in South Tamil Nadu’s small towns that have single and two screen theatres. How can we release all these films? And unlike multiplexes, theatres do not play multiple films at the same time. This time, we may have to share two films in one screen, which will bring down revenue of individual films as shows get shared.”

Vishnu Vishal, whose Silukkuvarpatti Singam was the first to join the Christmas release race, says, “I did everything as per protocol and got a written approval letter from RRC of TFPC stating that our film could release on December 21, along with one other film. But all of a sudden, many other producers have jumped the queue and announced their release date, throwing the TFPC rules and regulations to the wind. I was asked if I could push my film... but why should I? I decided to go ahead with release after Red Giant Movies came on board; we are confident that our content will attract viewers.”

The December 21 weekend is the best time of the year as it begins a 10-day holiday for schools and educational institutions. The heroes of all the five Christmas films are putting their weight behind the projects (four of the five are produced by the hero himself or their family concern) and trying to woo distributors and theatres. It has slowly become a ‘prestige issue’, one that will determine how the five films will fare.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 2:02:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/maari-2-adanga-maru-seethakaathi-christmas-releases/article25740481.ece

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