2020 Pongal releases Darbar and Pattas aren't a patch on 2019's Petta and Viswasam, say TN theatre owners
Darbar released on 9 January, while Pattas arrived in cinemas on 15 January.
Last year's Pongal festival proved profitable for all theatre owners across Tamil Nadu with Rajinikanth’s Petta and Ajith’s Viswasam grossing nearly Rs 240 crores. This year too, exhibitors and distributors expected a similar reception but the competition so far has not been stiff. Rajinikanth's Darbar (released on 9 January) son-in-law Dhanush's Pattas (15 January) did not engage in a head-to-head battle like Petta and Viswasam.
Firstpost asked movie theatre owners from across Tamil Nadu to compare the Pongal box office revenues of 2019 and 2020. “You can’t compare 2019 and 2020 Pongal releases. The clash between Petta and Viswasam was epic and the revenue was historic. I don’t think any other Pongal releases would fetch us such a mammoth revenue”, says Ruben of GK Cinemas which comes under the Chengalpattu trade zone. He adds that Darbar's collection was slightly less than Petta but Pattas' revenue was just what he had expected.
Similarly, Ram Cinemas, a prominent theatre in Tirunelveli says, "In our theatre, both Pattas and Darbar collected the expected revenue but the collections weren’t historic like last year Pongal festival. The Pongal holiday season provided maximum revenue for Dhanush’s Pattas.”
TPV Multiplex, another popular theatre in the Tirunelveli trade zone says Darbar's performance was excellent. “For us, Darbar performed better than Petta because of the solo release. From 9 January to 19 January, we witnessed houseful shows in our theatre for the Rajinikanth-starrer. Pattas only performed well during Pongal holidays, the film has already dropped in our theatre. We are also the highest collection center for Darbar in Tirunelveli zone as per the ticket new booking chart."
Pathy, who owns Sri Sakthi Cinemas in Mettupalayam, says, "Darbar will collect 90 percent of the revenue of Petta. I can’t compare Pattas and Darbar as the buying price and budget are incomparable. But Dhanush-starrer collected what we expected from the film”.
Most theatre owners are of the view that these films should have released on 15 January. They believe that a solo release only benefits producers. To earn back their investment, theatre owners need a longer time for a film to run. They also say that most people will be busy attending to the traditional rituals and customs before Pongal, thus making it unlikely for them to catch a film.
“As a theatre owner, I always prefer two big films releasing on the same day for Pongal and Diwali because audiences would show interest to watch both the films; the comparison factor would also help us in the revenue. Most of the moviegoers in Tamil Nadu watched both Petta and Viswasam last year, but in 202, a few would have seen only Darbar and others would have preferred Pattas," says Ruben.
A Madurai theatre owner, at the condition of anonymity, says that both Darbar and Pattas will incur a slight loss to distributors.
Naganathan, a popular trade analyst says that the Pongal releases of 2020 yielded half of what was made last year. "In the long run, Darbar is expected to collect the revenue registered by Petta in Tamil Nadu but for the budget involved, I wouldn’t say it as an excellent number. The two Telugu biggies also affected Darbar’s revenue in overseas. On the other hand, the buyers of Pattas have mostly got back their investment. In my opinion, Darbar would have benefited more if it released on Pongal day."
He adds that the trend of releasing two big films alongside each other speaks for itself. Not only did Petta and Viswasam profit from adhering to this decision in 2019, this year's Telugu films Mahesh Babu's Sarileru Neekevvaru and Allu Arjun's Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo have also collected a hefty revenue.
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