Titans clash, industry has mixed feelings

After a difficult year that was marred by the 48-day strike this summer, the Tamil film industry, in the latter half of the year, has recovered with films like Vijay Sethupathi’s 96, Vishnu Vishal’s Ratsasan and Dhanush’s Vada Chennai.

With actor Rajinikanth and director Shankar delivering a blockbuster with 2.0, the industry ended the year well. Jayam Ravi’s Adanga Maru and Vishnu Vishal’s Sillukuvarpatti Singam — both garnering favourable reviews — have been a bonus.

The trade is now waiting nervously for Ajith’s Viswasam and Rajinikanth’s Petta, slated for release during the Pongal weekend.

While a section of the distributors and exhibitors welcome the clash, a few theatre owners fear that two big films vying for people’s attention is bound to reduce the overall business.

‘Fast-fading craze’

“I foresee at least a 30% in the overall collections because the two films are coming together,” said Rakesh Gowthaman, managing director, Vettri Theatres. Rakesh added, “Everyone wants to watch a new film in the first three days, after which the craze is gone. Then there is the effect of piracy. People usually tend to wait for reviews before watching the second film. The audience might not want to spend that much.” The owner of a leading multiplex chain said, “We have to wait and see what is going to happen.”

Big-ticket films releasing close to each other has been a problem this year in Tamil cinema, resulting in a number of films releasing in a bunch, as witnessed in October and in the final week of December. Taking a contrary view, distributor Tiruppur Subramaniam said two big films coming together was a boon for the industry.

“The audience will have choices and they can pick. The market need not be bombarded with just one film. Both films will get almost equal number of screens out of the 1,000 odd screens in Tamil Nadu and there is good chance that most of these screens will be full,” he said.

Asked why the two films couldn’t have avoided this box-office bout and released earlier for the Christmas weekend, distributor Tiruppur Mr. Subramaniam said, “Major Hollywood and Hindi films release all over the world and take most of our screens. Plus, Christmas is also a major festival for the Malayalam film industry. We struggle to get screens in markets outside Tamil Nadu — both within India and outside.”

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