Deepavali weekend set to witness a clash of the titans at box office

Three marquee films – actor Vijay’s Bigil, actor Karthi’s Kaithi and actor Vijay Sethupathi’s Sangathamizhan – are set to lock horns at the box office during Deepavali.

Films with big stars releasing on the same weekend has become a new trend in Tamil cinema – after actor Ajith’s Viswasam clashed with actor Rajinikanth’s Petta on Pongal day in January. The industry earlier preferred a solo release to fill up screens. Producers insist that audiences are looking to watch movies in theatres during Deepavali and it is best to cash in on this.

While Tamil movie fans will have three movies on Deepavali day, the distributors and theatre owners, who have been complaining about dwindling occupancies at the cinemas, are unsure about the new trend.

Made at a staggering budget of ₹200 crore, AGS Entertainment confirmed to The Hindu that Bigil will hit the screens on the Deepavali weekend. Speaking about the film, Archana Kalpathi, CEO, AGS Cinemas, and the film’s creative producer, said that the film will release in every screen this Deepavali despite the competition. “Bigil is our biggest film till date, with the biggest star in Tamil cinema now. We have spent close to ₹200 crore and the audience will see the magnitude and scale of the film when the trailer comes out. We are coming for the Deepavali weekend and we are very sure that the film will release in almost every screen in Tamil Nadu,” she said.

Asked if she was confident that Bigil would get the maximum number of screens, she said that biggest of films will get the most number of screens. “When you announce a date and stick to it, the release will be smooth and it will get maximum screens. Cinema owners also prefer movies such as Bigil, which has a superstar like Vijay, who can bring in huge crowds,” she said.

‘One may drop out’

With AGS Productions having a history of sticking to release dates, sources in the trade are hopeful that either Kaithi or Sangathamizhan will drop out of the race, choosing to release on a weekend when there are no big movies.

A top executive at one of the biggest movie chains said that he expects one of these films to pull out of the race. “I feel that one of the films will eventually drop out. That way, they can come when there is a dry weekend with no films. However, three big films on the same weekend will give more negotiating power for theatres to get better revenue-sharing terms,” he said.

‘Enough screens’

Presenting a different view, S.R. Prabhu, producer of Kaidhi, said that there are enough screens to accommodate these films.

“Earlier, only around 70-100 films were made and biggest films aimed for festival release as people thronged to theatres. However, with the advent of multiplexes, there are now more release centres. If a multiplex has 6 screens, how can they run one film in all 6 screens? Since this is a festive weekend, there is a need for a second film,” he said.

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