The show goes on
The Tamil industry shutdown may just have done some inadvertent good to a handful of films
The ongoing strike by the Tamil Film Producers’ Council (TFPC) against the Digital Service Providers (DSP) may have brought the industry to a grinding halt, but as they say, every dark cloud has a silver lining. In this case, the beneficiaries are films like Naachiyaar, Kalakalappu 2 and Padmaavat, which despite getting released many weeks ago, continue to run in theatres.
Kishore, head of marketing in Sathyam Cinemas, points out that both shows of Kalakalappu 2 ran to packed shows over the weekend. "The week days don't see as big an audience though," he says.
He believes that this extended run for these films has led to an increase in revenue of about 30 per cent. "The reception is better for Kalakalappu 2 than Naachiyaar," he notes.
It isn't just these Tamil films that have benefitted from the extended run. Given that 80 per cent of the screens in Tamil Nadu survive on Tamil content, the strike has forced them to be more welcoming of films of other languages, including Kirrak Party, Rangasthalam and Baaghi 2.
"I had always thought Telugu films were for Telugu audiences, but the past few weeks have seen a lot of Tamil audiences taking to Rangasthalam," he tells us.
Theatres have also brought back hit films like Vikram Vedha. However, Kishore doesn't think the re-release has had any great impact. "That's because it got telecast on television. But Mersal and Theri, which were re-released in single screens, saw decent crowds, largely because of Vijay's star appeal," he adds.
Nikilesh Surya, owner of Rohini Silver Screens, agrees that Kalakalappu 2 is a chief beneficiary. "The film has made 30 per cent more revenue," he says. "There's also a lot of interest for films like Ready Player One, Hichki, and Black Panther."
The producer and director of Kalakalappu 2, Sundar C, is not too convinced though. "The strike has definitely not played to the advantage of my film (money-wise) as it wasn't the only project to get released in February. As a filmmaker, I am happy, but as a producer, I am not," he says. "I hope that when the strike eventually ends, we, the producers, get a solution. I don't understand why we should continue to pay for the projectors. We have paid the Virtual Print Fee (VPF) for more than a decade now."
He goes on to explain why the extended run isn't as useful as it may seem. "Producers aren't getting a proper share in the business. Profit is only when we get more than 20 per cent of what we invest in a film. It hasn't been the case with Kalakalappu 2."
Pushkar, one of the directors of Vikram Vedha, thinks theatre owners stand to benefit more from re-releases. "Only new films can keep theatres going. Those who didn't catch the film then can see it in theatres now, but that's a small segment. The re-release has helped the film get a good buzz on social media again, but that doesn't add to box-office numbers," he says with a laugh.
We learn from a source that Naachiyaar has managed to earn an additional Rs 2 crore in the Tamil Nadu region, after its opening weekend collections of Rs 5 crore. Part of this can be attributed to the extended run. Meanwhile, Padmavaat 3D is reported to have grossed around Rs 18 crore in Tamil Nadu. The numbers are trickling in recent weeks, but at a time when audiences and theatre owners are starved for new content, it's almost a throwback to the 90s that films like Kalakalappu 2 are still running, two months after their original release.