That’s all it took for tickets of Rajinikanth’s upcoming starrer Kabali to be sold out, at 400 theatres across the US.
And we’re not even putting a figure on the frenzy for tickets to the first few shows of the film in the superstar’s ‘core constituency’ – Tamil Nadu.
As the release date of Rajinikanth’s 159th film draws nearer (Kabali will be in theatres on 22 July) the demand for tickets has been unprecedented. Nearly all the theatres in Chennai will be playing the film across all their screens – and yet, there’s quite the fight raging between moviegoers for access to coveted tickets, especially over the film’s first three days.
Memes and jokes about the excuses professionals will have to come up with for their bosses, just so they can skip work and take in an early Kabali show, have already been doing the rounds. Meanwhile, social media was abuzz with rumours that there would be special 1 am shows of Kabali on 22 July – although producer Kalaipuli S Thanu has said that the first shows will begin only on the morning of 22 July.
Thanu, who sold the rights to Kabali for record prices, adds that it was unprecedented that every theatre in Chennai was screening the film across all its screens. One of the most popular theatre chains, SPI Cinemas, is playing the film across its 27 screens in the city which amounts to 96 shows per day. Pre-booking at SPI Cinemas opened on 15 July and within a few hours all the tickets for the 96 shows had been sold out for the first three days. Bookings opened on Monday morning across other theatres like Abirami (16 shows) in the city and by 10 am, tickets for the first three days have been sold out. Social media is filled with requests from fans to theatres like AGS Cinemas to check when they are opening bookings.
Rakesh Gowthaman owner of Vettri Theatres tells us that though he has not yet opened bookings, tickets for 22 July have been sold out for Kabali. “We have two theatres – Vetrri and Rakesh – and all the tickets for the first day have been reserved by friends, family, VIPs and people on social media. This has never happened before in our theatre! In the city, there are no tickets available across screens for the first three days and people are now calling me for tickets. In fact, Lions Club wanted tickets for an entire show and I had to decline. Now they are going to Coimbatore to watch the film,” says Rakesh. Ask him why there is a big demand for tickets and he says, “Director Pa Ranjith has shown Rajinikanth portraying his actual age in Kabali and people want to see that. Secondly, the teaser and the song ‘Neruppu Da’ is mind-blowing and people love it.”
The Kabali craze has caught on in other states like Karnataka and Kerala as well. While in Tamil Nadu, ticket prices are regulated by the government and cannot exceed Rs 120, in these states the ticket price ranges anywhere from Rs 150 to Rs 600! And whether July 22 is a working day or not people are definitely planning to catch the film. Says Abhilash Jacob, a sales professional in Bengaluru, “The bookings have opened only in four theatres and they are sold out for the first day. I am hoping to get tickets for the first day when bookings open across other screens. I can’t miss the first day first show of Kabali at any cost.”
Rajinikanth fans – and even those who aren’t, but are just caught up in the craze – are calling in their connections to score Kabali tickets. An actor, on condition of anonymity, says, “I got a call from an uncle who I haven’t heard from in ages! He generally enquired about my well-being and then asked me to get him a few Kabali tickets because my aunt wanted to see the film. I don’t even think I’ll be able to get tickets!” VIPs are now looking at theatres outside Chennai to catch the film in case they don’t get tickets.
Such is the power of Rajinikanth.