Beast vs KGF 2: Clash of the titans
Stakeholders open up on what's in store for the Tamil Nadu box office as theatres brace for the arrival of the year’s most anticipated films, Beast and KGF: Chapter 2
It may not be a stretch to call this week perhaps the most exciting in the post-Covid era, even as two big-budget films—Vijay’s actioner, Beast, directed by hitmaker Nelson Dilipkumar and Yash’s KGF: Chapter 2, the sequel to the 2018 action Kannada film—are set to hit the marquee. While biggies like Valimai, Etharkum Thuninthavan and the recently released RRR breathed life into the theatre business that has been reeling in the post-pandemic era, the release of Beast and KGF 2 is expected to serve as a major breather and is set to mark the first major box-office clash in a while.
While a ‘clash’ bears a negative connotation among the devoted fanbase of Vijay, Mariyappan of Albert Cinemas calls it “healthy” as far as the trade is concerned. “Festival seasons like Pongal, Tamizh Puthandu, and Deepavali help the film business majorly. Multiple films can be easily accommodated during these days.” On the advance booking trends of both films, Mariyappan says, “We have allocated the bigger screen for Beast while KGF 2 will play in the second auditorium. The bookings have been great, with all four shows of Beast for the first day getting sold out instantly. We will play five shows during the holidays, and they are all getting booked out as we speak, for the next four days. I think the popularity of names like Vijay, Nelson and Sun Pictures has raised the hype around the film. KGF 2 is also doing well on the online booking front.”
Ruban Mathevan of GK Cinemas exclaims pleasant surprise too at the buzz surrounding the Yash-starrer. “Bookings are fantastic for both films, and KGF 2 has really taken us by surprise. We were anticipating high demand for Beast, but we didn’t expect such hype for KGF 2. The queries for tickets are more than we anticipated.”
The big question is, will Beast surpass the opening of Valimai, which registered one of the biggest opening day numbers in recent times? “Yes, comfortably,” Ruban shares. “Despite the clash with KGF, Beast has the advantage of playing solo on the first day, as it’s released a day earlier.” GK Cinemas, interestingly, has allocated six shows for Beast while letting KGF 2 have two.
This is a reflection of the overall screen distribution among these films, with distributor and the president of the Tamil Nadu Theatres' Association president, Tirupur Subramaniam, clarifying that Beast will be released in more than 800 screens overall, while KGF 2 will be shown on 250 screens. “This means that both films are guaranteed to enjoy a fantastic opening,” he says, and notes that the rivalry between both does eat into their business. “A solo release would have resulted in more screen count, and consequently, higher gross collections, but yes, a huge opening is still on the cards.”
Producer SR Prabhu, who is releasing KGF 2 across Tamil Nadu, doesn’t agree with the notion of a ‘clash’. “This is not a race. This is simply the audience finally getting the opportunity to consume diverse content. Nobody is asking them to watch just one film,” he says. While Beast is set to enjoy plenty of traction on account of the star status of Vijay, Prabhu notes that the content of KGF 2 will speak for itself. “The first film has been celebrated by all sections of the audience, and the second film will now have an international audience as well. People from everywhere are celebrating the franchise even before the release of the second film. You remember the effect Bahubali had? KGF 2 is a similar phenomenon.”
The producer is releasing the film in multiple languages in the State and shares that exhibitors will decide on the language preference. “The Tamil version will retain the majority of shows but theatre owners will determine the allocation of other languages based on an understanding of their region and demography. Multiplexes in Chennai and a few other cities will screen the Hindi version while towns located near the border will choose to play the Kannada version.”
With the release of both films upon us, the producer is optimistic: “The ticket sales and advance bookings show that this is a week of celebration.”
The film industry has been waiting for such a week for a long time now.