Tradewinds Cinema

Where are the hits?

A stil from Vishnu Vishal's Velainu Vandhutta Vellaikaaran  

The first half of 2016 has seen a record 108 Tamil film releases, the highest for any film industry in India. In this period, we’ve had one blockbuster, three superhits, four hits and six films that broke even.

Vijay’s Atlee-directed Theri, produced by Kalaipuli S. Thanu, is the only blockbuster of the year so far. According to trade sources, the film is said to have collected a producer’s share of around Rs. 48-50 crore from Tamil Nadu theatricals alone. It has also managed to do good business in Kerala and Karnataka. Theri’s Telugu-dubbed version ( Policeudu) is also a hit, while its Hindi television dubbing rights have been purchased for Rs. 6 crore. Its overseas market has also proved beneficial for the producer.

The three superhits — Sivakarthikeyan’s Rajini Murugan, Madhavan’s Irudhi Suttru and Vijay Antony’s Pichaikaran — were all made on a reasonable budget, with producers able to sell their satellite rights. Rajini Murugan and Irudhi Suttru did good business in the overseas market too, while Pichaikaran dubbed into Telugu, turned out to be a blockbuster in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

The four hits — Vijay Sethupathi’s Sethupathi, Karthi-Nagarjuna’s Thozha, Udhayanidhi Stalin’s Manithan and Vishnu Vishal’s Velainu Vandhutta Vellaikaaran — did good theatrical business in Tamil Nadu, especially in the B and C stations. Thozha’s Telugu version Oopiri was a hit as well.

Sethupathi and Velainu Vandhutta Vellaikaaran proved the importance of Tamil Nadu’s B and C markets. A happy Vishnu Vishal, the producer and hero of VVV, says, “I’m on top of the world with the success of Velainu Vandhutta Vellaikaaran because it has widened my reach as a hero and it was profitable for me as a producer. The film worked due to its comedy, its cast and crew, and the reach of its distributor, Fox Star Studios. VVV, made on a reasonable budget, has roughly grossed around Rs. 12 crore from TN theatres. I was also able to sell the satellite rights for a decent price.”

These exceptions aside, the industry continues to be ailing with a mere five-six per cent hit ratio. One of the major issues plaguing the industry is filmmakers overshooting their budgets, especially of small, experimental films.

The first six months of last year saw as many as eight small-budget (made on a budget of Rs. 2.5-5.5 crore) films turning out to be hits. In contrast, there have been only two hits in this category ( Velainu Vandhutta Vellaikaaran and Pichaikaran) this year. The other problem is how several films go unnoticed due to the flurry of releases each week.

For instance, Samuthirakani’s Appa and Sibi Sathyaraj’s Jackson Durai, which were doing good business, were removed from some smaller stations to make way for Santhanam’s Dhillukku Dhuddu and Salman Khan’s Sultan.

S Pictures’ Srinivasan, who controls 72 screens in the pivotal North and South Arcot area of Tamil Nadu, says, “Apart from these 108 Tamil films, we’re also seeing the release of nearly 50 films from other languages. There should be some kind of restriction on the number of Tamil releases, as it is turning out to be a programming nightmare for the theatres. Even good films are not getting their due anymore.”

Another factor that’s hurting the business is piracy. A combination of a film’s pirated copies available online and as DVDs, is taking away as much as 30-40 per cent of a film’s business.

Add to this the stiff competition Tamil films are facing from dubbed Hollywood films like The Jungle Book, and The Conjuring 2, and Kollywood honchos have much to think about to get their house in order.

Considering that biggies like Kabali, S3, Remo, Iru Mugan, Thodari, and Sabash Naidu are all lined up, perhaps the second half of the year will give more reason for cheer.

Top of the charts

Blockbuster: Theri

Superhit: Rajini Murugan, Irudhi Suttru, Pichaikaran

Hit: Sethupathi, Thozha, Velainu Vandhutta Vellaikaaran, Manithan

Average grosser: Aranmanai 2, Kadhalum Kadanthu Pogum, Hello Naan Pei Pesuren, Ko 2, Idhu Namma Aalu, Enakku Innoru Per Irukku

*Please note that the list has been culled from trade sources, for lack of a proper box-office tracking system in Tamil Nadu.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 4:00:09 PM |

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