Trade Winds Movies

How’s Kollywood business looking like in 2020?

Vijay in a still from ‘Master’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Kollywood’s business will undergo a major shift in the new decade. This comes at a time when the market is at an all-time low, thanks to the failure of recent movies — some of which, featuring big stars, failed to draw audiences in Tamil Nadu. Producers and distributors are at loggerheads due to several issues; spiralling production costs, stars’ remunerations and return on investment rates. In fact, some leading financiers have stopped funding new films until they recover “bad loans”.

Exhibitors, on the other hand, are concerned about the market since big-ticket films are unable to survive the opening weekend. A fraction of them has put the blame on producers, who have been selling the digital rights to OTT platforms in a month’s time. Theatre owners too are burdened by the 8% Local Body Entertainment Tax, making the Tamil film industry the highest tax payer. About the business, actor Vishnu Vishal says, “2020 is going to make a difference. I’m expecting more transparency in ticketing as business will get totally computerised.”

Here we look at five major changes that will take place in the New Year.

Star power

The audience prefers watching star-driven movies and Kollywood’s star system is here to stay. In fact, it will only get stronger. There needs to be some sort of restructure in terms of stars’ salaries for a movie to be profitable at the box office. “The trade will not make profits if stars don’t opt for a profit-sharing basis. In today’s scenario, a star’s remuneration is close to 50-60% of the total cost of a movie, which is sad. Then what about the distributor share after all taxes? My New Year resolution is to not produce Tamil movies any more,” says producer Mukesh Mehta.

Only air inside

Recently, a producer sold the Hindi dubbing rights of a film to a distributor in Mumbai for a whopping ₹8 crore. The agent, who paid a token of advance, backed out a day before the film’s release. The situation isn’t different in the overseas market, where buyers had a lot to lose. It is quite alarming because there are no takers for Hindi and overseas rights for Tamil movies slated to release in the first quarter of 2020. A leading overseas agent says, “Producers cannot charge a bomb just because one or two movies made money here. We are planning to work on a commission basis from this year.”

The role of multiplex

Multiplexes will call the shots, just like the previous year. National multiplex players have control over the lucrative markets of the three Cs — Chennai, Chengalpet and Coimbatore — which bring almost 60% of total revenue from Tamil Nadu theatricals. The single screens, which were once the backbone of Tamil films, have either shut down or have been forced to upgrade. “Audiences in Tamil Nadu are growing at a rapid rate, and they want to upgrade their cinema-viewing experiences. This type of audience is only going to increase in 2020,” says a spokesperson for a leading multiplex in the city.

OTT is the future

Producers are now in a rush to release their movies on OTT platforms, as early as possible. With the recently-released web series Queen becoming a hit, there will be more original content in the online space. Producer SR Prabhu released his Kaithi within days after its theatrical release. About the trend, Prabhu says, “There is going to be a surge of original content online, which will result in more web series in Tamil. The number might even surpass feature films in the next couple of years.”

Kuala Lumpur-based Dr Sunita Kumar, who is the founder of Let’s OTT website, says, “What the Tamil industry has achieved in the OTT space is just the tip of the iceberg. There is definitely a global audience for online content, which was evident when people watched Asuran and Oththa Seruppu.”

Change in formula

Tamil cinema will see a change in the way commercial movies are packaged. Vijay in Master and Ajith in the upcoming Valimai point toward that direction. The number of songs has also come down in movies since stars these days prefer montage songs. Unlike previous years, there will be more collaboration in 2020. Says Prabhu, “Take my word... there will be more association between actors, producers and directors in various industries. I am sure that the studio model will take over.”

Filmmakers will now focus on telling stories that have global connections. Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, said that the next 100 million subscriber growth for the streaming platform will come from India. The bottomline is, Kollywood must decide whether it needs to upgrade and update or face the music.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 2:42:40 AM |

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