Vivegam: Ajith's spy thriller gets record-breaking screen count; theatres inflate prices
Days after the strike of cinema hall owners against double taxation in Tamil Nadu (post Goods and Services Tax implementation), distributors and theatre owners are looking forward to some good business this week when Siva's long awaited spy thriller Vivegam hits the screens.
The mania around the film, starring superstar Ajith in the lead role, is so high that it is treading on the path of Pa Ranjith's 2016 gangster drama Kabali, starring Rajinikanth, and SS Rajamouli's 2017 war epic Baahubali 2: The Conclusion.
The Hindu reports that cinema hall owners are selling Vivegam tickets on inflated prices to cash in on Ajith's popularity in the state. The same report states that for theatres, particularly the single screens, that do not sell tickets on any online platform, are charging prices as high as Rs 800 for Vivegam.
The same report states that fans who have bought tickets from such theatres are only getting chits of paper, with the show details and an inflated price written on it. They are are not giving out printed tickets in order to earn unaccounted income over and above the highest ticket price mandated by the government. Since they will pay tax only on the mandated price, they are black marketing in order to make the most of the buzz around the film.
The report in The Hindu traces the reason behind this inflated pricing to stars like Ajith who increase their fees with every successful film. This forces film producers to sell their products to distributors at astronomically high prices, which in turn, compels theatre owners to fetch extra money from the final consumers.
However, recent events have proved that superstars are not invincible at the box office. Salman Khan's Tubelight, a period drama directed by Kabir Khan, and Shah Rukh Khan's Jab Harry Met Sejal, a romantic comedy directed by Imtiaz Ali, have failed to yield significant returns at the box office.
In such cases, there is no guarantee whether star power commands a certain opening at the box office. Thus, disappointed fans are bound to unleash their fury on the film if they feel they do not get the worth of their money. This turns into a vicious cycle which does more harm to the industry than good.
The first Twitter reactions of excited fans, who caught the earliest shows on Thursday (24 August), suggest that the film may not live up to its humongous hype.
#Vivegamreview movie average thaan, action sequences are good, romance part of story nothing impressive, konjam lagging irkku padathula
— Santhosh Kumar (@santhoshsan) August 24, 2017
#vivegamreview even if it's a utter flop Ajith fans will say it's a blockbuster and even if it's good then Vijay fans will say it's a flop 😂
— MRK (@iamshivan) August 23, 2017
Paid critics started to bark(praise) for the amount they got, ignore. #Vivegamreview
— Mersal Thalaivaa VJ (@VijayFanatic1) August 24, 2017
The craze around Vivegam is evident, given its screen count across the globe, especially in south Indian states. The Indian Express reports that the screen distribution of the film is as follows: Tamil Nadu - 800 Kerala - 300 (with a record 1,000 shows on opening day) Karnataka - 200 Telangana + Hyderabad - 450 USA - 160 Malaysia - 700 (Biggest for Ajith so far) Total - 3,000 screens worldwide This hysteria around the release of this film was not in vain.
Milan, the art director of the film, had vouched for the international standards of Siva's film. "The script and the scale are much higher and different than anything we have seen before. Being grand is one thing and being international is another thing. But Vivegam is both. Tamil cinema will be proud of Vivegam. I have followed a specific design pattern for this script, which requires an international touch. I believe the visuals have lived up to our expectations," said Milan, on the experience of shooting the film in untouched locations like Bulgaria.
Vivegam also stars Vivek Oberoi, Kajal Aggarwal and Akshara Haasan. It is produced by Sathya Jyothi Films.
(With inputs from IANS)