Cinema

The highs and lows of 2015

A still from Thani Oruvan  

This year has been memorable for Tamil cinema. 203 Tamil films were released, out of which 18 reportedly are profitable for their producers. It was a year when both big-budget crowd pleasers and small-budget critically-acclaimed films did well at the box-office. The audiences lapped up good content, and at the same time, rejected star-studded movies which failed to strike a chord with them.

This was also a year when Tamil films expanded their market overseas. A critically-acclaimed award-winning film like Kaaka Muttai was not only a winner at the Tamil Nadu box-office but also conquered new markets like Hong Kong, where it grossed over HK$ 1 million (Rs. 86 lakh). Ajith’s Vedalam is reported to have grossed nearly Rs. 15 crore on its opening day in Tamil Nadu. A bilingual like S. S. Rajamouli’s Baahubali went on to do record business in Tamil Nadu and also made inroads into North Indian territory. Baahubali is the first South Indian film dubbed in Hindi to collect Rs. 100 crore.

The top five grossers at the Tamil Nadu box-office are— Kanchana-2, Vedalam, Baahubali, Thani Oruvan and I. The producers of these films refused to share the exact box-office figures, but it is known that all these films did impressive business outside the state. They can be classified as super hits when their worldwide theatrical collection and satellite and other rights are taken into account. A film like Thani Oruvan has made good money from selling its remake rights in Telugu and Hindi.

If return on investment (ROI) is taken as the criteria, then we have a larger number of hits. These films, with good content, made on a reasonable budget and marketed well, turned out to be safe bets at the box-office. As per industry sources, these films covered their cost of production from Tamil Nadu theatricals alone.

They are: Kaaka Muttai, Naanum Rowdy Dhaan, Demonte Colony, Maya, Trisha Illana Nayanthara, O Kadhal Kanmani, Eetti, Darling and 36 Vayadhinile. Films which reportedly broke even or became profitable after their satellite and overseas rights are taken into consideration are Komban, Maari, Papanasam and Romeo Juliet. A leading producer says, “As far as the industry is concerned, the route to profitability, especially for big films, depends on entertainment tax exemption. Three out of the five top grossers this year have been exempted from tax, which boosted their collections. More films would have been profitable if all Tamil films were exempted from taxes.”

Trade experts believe that in order to improve collections, the cap on ticket prices, which have remained unchanged for seven years in Tamil Nadu, should go. In the present climate, tickets for many big films outside of Chennai city, are sold at a higher price during the opening weekend; this ends up unaccounted. This is partly why producers do not want to report box-office collections.

The biggest setback for the industry in 2015 was the crash of the satellite television market. All major television channels in Tamil stopped buying new films, as they found it difficult to recover their money from ads alone. A spokesperson of a leading channel says, “How long can you keep losing money by buying film rights at exorbitant costs? After the recent TRAI-stipulated rules curbing the running time of advertisements in programmes, it is not viable to buy film content at high rates. To add to this, piracy is rampant and pirated copies of almost all films become available on torrent sites immediately after the film’s release.”

The biggest trend in the industry seems to be horror-comedies, as their cost of production is low, as proved by films like Kanchana-2, Demonte Colony, Darling and Maya. Right now, nearly 50 horror-comedies are awaiting their release. Heroes playing characters with negative shades and powerful villain characters are also attracting audiences.

On the whole, it was a good year for Kollywood, as the hit ratio, compared to previous years, has improved.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2020 1:59:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/tamil-cinema-the-highs-and-lows-of-2015/article8031689.ece

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