Tamil film industry is grossly exaggerating its box office collections, alleges top distributor
Tamil cinemas' unbelievable box-office figures put out with much hype and hoopla on social media by producers and stars are fake — according to Tirupur Subramaniam, Kollywood's leading distributor and exhibitor. A WhatsApp audio clip shared by Subramaniam has gone viral, making Tamil superstars go beet red.
Subramaniam, a distributor and exhibitor who controls nearly 170 of the 1,000-odd screens in the state, rules over Coimbatore area, the second biggest territory in the Tamil film trade. He used to finance and produce films earlier, but doesn't any longer.
In his hard-hitting audio clip, Subramaniam says in the last seven months, all star-driven films — with some of them claiming Rs 100 crore collections and holding success parties — were not profitable for their distributors or theaters which paid MG (Minimum Guarantee) amounts. Subramaniam listed out seven films which claimed to be "huge hits", which were actually "huge losses for the distributors".
The "hits" that were "flops" listed out by Subramaniam which released in the last seven months features films of all top Tamil superstars. They are — Rajinikanth (Kabali), Vijay (Bairavaa), Suriya (Si3), Sivakarthikeyan (Remo), Dhanush (Thodari and Kodi), Karthi (Kaashmora) and Jayam Ravi (Bogan).
Subramaniam alleged: "I think Kollywood is the only industry which celebrates flops and holds success parties. Some of these films claim that they collected Rs 100 crore and stars distribute presents to crew members (Suriya gave a Toyota Fortuner to Si3 director Hari to celebrate its success). These stars are living in their own make-believe world where they can only give hits, and producers — to curry favour with them — put out ads saying their film is a 'huge hit, biggest in Tamil cinema' with inflated fake figures. Then they put out ads in papers claiming the film had a 50 or 100-day run!"
The peeved distributor and theater owner also said, "When a film bombs, it puts tremendous pressure on the distributor and exhibitor who has borrowed money from financiers to buy a particular film. The stars are riding on these fake box-office collections to safeguard their stardom and opening."
Subramaniam hinted that the distributors and exhibitors are planning to come together to stop this trend which is destroying the industry. They will be issuing "red cards" for stars whose films are not viable at the cost at which they have been purchased. He added that while he is nobody to dictate stars' salaries, they should at least be viable for the buyers. Subramaniam contends that in the past, MGR and Rajinikanth (in the '80s and '90s), knew the potential and collections of their films. If one of their films failed, they were magnanimous enough to give the same producer priority dates (for a later project) and cut their salaries.
Subramaniam told Firstpost, "In the good old days, MGR was very particular that everybody concerned with a film — from its producer, to the distributor, exhibitor, to the man who runs the canteen and parking lot — made money out of a hit film. Today the system is skewered in a way that only the star makes money and increases his salary irrespective of whether the film is a hit or flop."
The trade is at last hitting back as mounting losses have made Kollywood a sunset industry, with stars involved in bitter one-upmanship battles to prove that they are the kings of the box office.