Leo finally releases in 900 screens amid last minute delays

Just a day before the release, most well-known theatres in the city and elsewhere were still negotiating terms of how to share revenue with the producer and distributors

October 19, 2023 09:01 am | Updated 12:40 pm IST - CHENNAI

A promotional image for Leo.

A promotional image for Leo. | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

After overcoming multiple hurdles, actor Vijay’s Leo, which has been kicking up a storm on social media even before its release, premiered in close to 900 screens.

However, just a day before the release, most well-known theatres in the city and elsewhere were still negotiating terms of how to share revenue with the producer and distributors. This meant that the advance booking of tickets, which usually opens a few days prior to the release, was postponed until an agreement was reached between stakeholders, despite facing extraordinary pressure from fans.

“The negotiations went until the last minute, but it was wrapped up just in time. The revenue share between distributors and exhibitors was a sore point. For single-screen theatres, it was almost 75%-25% (distributor-exhibitor) and this became a point of contention. I think this has been resolved now,” said a well-known producer. Another exhibitor added that many theatre owners in the southern districts had to agree to give even more to the distributor than their counterparts in the city.

Ever since Mr. Vijay opened up the possibility of entering politics in the near future, every development with respect to Leo, directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj, has come under acute scrutiny.

For instance, its producer, S. Lalit Kumar, decided not to hold the much-expected audio launch at the Nehru Indoor Stadium, where Mr. Vijay was expected to respond to actor Rajinikanth’s thinly veiled jab during the audio launch of Jailer. The State government has allowed only five shows per day, between 9 a.m. to 1.30 a.m. instead of allowing the customary 4 a.m. shows, which has led to a lot of criticism among the actor’s fans.

Safety concerns

Sources in the theatre owners’ association, however, said a decision was already made collectively to not screen early morning shows (not just for Leo, but in general) to avoid damage to property (as was seen recently during the screening of the trailer at a theatre in the city) due unruly fan behaviour and ensure their safety, especially after a youth died while celebrating the release of his favourite actor’s film earlier this year.

“We (theatre owners) have faced a lot of criticism for screening early morning shows. The high ticket prices, the behaviour of fans etc., became an issue. And when one fan died early this year, we decided that it was better to not hold early morning shows,” a theatre owner said. Jailer also did not have early morning shows, he said, adding that they would rather start screening films from 9 a.m. in future as well.

On Wednesday evening, a scene supposedly from Leo was leaked on social media and went viral, further angering the fans. However, the handle that posted it quickly took it down.

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