For Rajinikanth, Kaala will be a do or die film; clash with Jurassic World: A Fallen Kingdom could hurt opening weekend

Sreedhar Pillai

May 28, 2018 13:11:25 IST

It's going to be an all out battle at the Indian box-office on Thursday, 7 June.

Rajinikanth’s eagerly awaited film Kaala, which was earlier due to release on 27 April, was shifted to 7 June by its producer Dhanush of Wunderbar Films. Now on the same day, Universal Pictures' monster franchise film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom releases. It was earlier scheduled for a 22 June release, and was then advanced to 8 June, but last week the makers decided to push it back by a day to 7 June.

It is going to be a shootout at the India box-office as both the films are getting dubbed in Indian regional languages.

Poster for Kaala/Image from Twitter.

Poster for Kaala/Image from Twitter.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom will release in Indian markets in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu while Kaala releases in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi on the same day. Never before in the last two decades has Superstar Rajinikanth faced such stiff opposition and has been denied a solo release. The Hollywood studio is riding on the legacy of Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1994), which opened up the English dubbing films market in India. And its sequel Jurassic World (2015) was a huge hit, making Rs 147 crores and ranking among the top five Hollywood hits in India.

For Rajinikanth, Kaala — in a way — is a do or die film, as it is his first release after announcing his political plunge.

His last two releases Kabali (2016) and Lingaa (2014) cannot be classified as hits especially Lingaa, for which the superstar had to personally pay back distributors in Tamil Nadu. Now all eyes are on how big Kaala opens as it is crucial to his political career.

There is a feeling in the Tamil Nadu trade that Rajinikanth films in the last five years have not taken that crucial an opening. The trade feels his fan base among the youth has eroded as they have shifted their loyalty to younger superstars like Vijay and Ajith.

And the uncertainty about his yet-to-be-named political party, and whether he will continue with politics, has created confusion among the masses. At the same time, arch-rival Kamal Haasan has made more progress as a political leader and has been touring the state extensively. He also has an ‘opinion’ about all issues plaguing the state. Rajinikanth also seems to be in no hurry to start his political career as he has back-to-back releases this year – Kaala followed by 2.0 — and will start the shoot of his new film with Karthik Subbaraj soon.

Rajinikanth’s overcautious approach and his soft pedaling of the Modi government has made him the target of memes and critical comments in Tamil Nadu. This has also dented his larger-than-life image and now the litmus test will be how big Kaala opens in Tamil Nadu.

Rajinikanth at the Kaala music launch

Rajinikanth at the Kaala music launch. Image from Twitter.

Meanwhile the Tamil film trade has also changed and the collections are severely falling, following the implementation of GST, higher ticket rates and the recent strike in Kollywood. Earlier a Rajinikanth film, in all areas, used to be sold on the day of the ‘pooja’ itself. Now there is no outright sale as theatres are refusing to give Minimum Guarantee (MG) to distributors and prefer paying token advance amount to biggies. So the entire risk is on the producer of the film.

Though Kaala producers are claiming on social media that their film has been “sold” at a high price in three areas so far, the real truth would be that they are being distributed on commission basis. And there is also a feeling of uncertainty gripping the trade as they feel now a common factor with big hero films in Tamil Nadu is political opposition from fringe groups.

The phenomenal success of Avengers: Infinity War in Tamil Nadu, including rural areas, has given an added advantage to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

The main theatres would still prefer Kaala, which is expected to release in 500 to 550 screens in Tamil Nadu, while Jurassic World will get only between 150 to 200 screens. But the trouble is that if word-of-mouth (WOM) on Kaala does not live up to expectation, the opening will be hampered.

Latest poster of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Twitter/ @taran_adarsh

Latest poster of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Twitter/ @taran_adarsh

It is going to be a fierce fight and tight rope walk for Rajinikanth in his traditional bastion of Tamil Nadu for the 7 June weekend.

Updated Date: May 28, 2018 18:23 PM