Ittymaani: Made In China, Love Action Drama, Brothers Day, Finals: Why Onam 2019 releases failed at the box-office
A week after the releases, it looks like Love Action Drama leads with Ittymaani: Made in China following closely.
The Onam 2019 box-office results are out and there's nothing much to cheer about. Four Malayalam films released during the biggest festival in Kerala - Mohanlal’s Ittymaani: Made In China, Nivin Pauly’s Love Action Drama, Prithviraj’s Brothers Day and Rajeesha Vijayan’s Finals. All the releases, except for Finals, have been torn to shreds by the critics. At the box-office, there is no clear winner as they turned out to be average grossers. A week after the releases, it looks like Love Action Drama leads with Ittymaani: Made in China following closely.
Among the Onam releases, Mohanlal’s Ittymaani: Made In China released in nearly 250 screens and took Rs 2.05 Cr on day one. But later the film settled to be an average grosser. Nivin Pauly-Nayanthara Love Action Drama after a slow start picked up pace especially with the youth audiences and is likely to emerge as the Onam winner. As per sources, Kochi multiplexes data for the first six days shows Love Action Drama with 76 percent occupancy. But it had more footfalls than Ittymaani: Made In China which had 71 percent, while the other two are far behind. Prithviraj’s Brothers Day didn’t make any waves and is out of the race.
Rajeesha Vijayan’s Finals, which was raved by the critics, however did not attract the audiences. A theatre owner from Ernakulam, the highest collecting centre in Kerala, said: “The footfalls across Kerala screens have come down this Onam, as people are still in no mood to celebrate after recent floods and land slips that left more than 100 people dead. Plus there has been an economic downslide as seen in the sales of many items including textiles and food business. And cinema is no longer a priority as there are various Malayalam channels showing films for Onam which had released almost 40 days back.”
However, the real reason why there has been a decline in box-office collections is that Onam content was very poor. Ittymaani: Made In China was packaged as a family entertainer but there was nothing new in script or presentation. The debutant directors tried to ride on Mohanlal’s ‘comic’ image, but the jokes fell flat and there was a feeling among hardcore fans of the actor that there was nothing in it for them. Please note the film comes just after Mohanlal’s blockbuster Lucifer, which had many fan moments.
Love Action Drama was also poorly written and the romance between Nivin Pauly and Nayanthara was insipid and unconvincing. The romcom had some laugh-out-loud moments but ended up with a predictable climax. Nayanthara, who did powerful roles in Tamil films, had a very shoddily written role. Where LAD scored over Ittymaani was that it could manage to get the youth audiences due to its rich glossy look and Shaan Rahman’s music. And with hardly any strong opposition, LAD as per trade reports was a ‘timepass’ entertainer, which got it the required edge over rivals.
The trouble with Prithviraj’s Brothers Day was it fell between two stools; it was neither a full fledged comedy as expected from debutant actor turned director Kalabhavan Shajohn nor a thriller. The film was also too long (nearly three hours), and had nothing to attract the audiences. Rajeesha Vijayan’s Finals, a sports film about a cyclist, got the best reviews among Onam releases but some shows in small stations had to be cancelled due to lack of audiences. It was a bad strategy by the producers to release it along with Onam mass star driven movies.
Another reason cited for audiences keeping away from Onam releases is the growth of streaming platforms in Kerala. Earlier Malayalam films and its producers kept away from streaming platforms. The two leading Malayalam television channels — the market leader Asianet and Surya TV — brought satellite and streaming rights together. But with Lucifer producer selling streaming rights to Amazon and satellite to Asianet, the days of bundle deals are over. Now Malayalam cinema has found an attractive deal with streaming platforms which are streaming films after 35 to 50 days after its theatrical release.
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