Kaala sees low advance booking for a Rajinikanth film; could muted buzz be because of his political statements?

Sreedhar Pillai

June 06, 2018 11:45:09 IST

The pre-release buzz surrounding Rajinikanth-starrer Kaala is muted in the key market of Tamil Nadu. The advance booking for the film has been lukewarm. The usual hysteria surrounding a Thalaivar big release is clearly missing. Single screens and multiplexes, which opened booking for the film. has found it to be lukewarm. Most of the screens are reporting an unusual pattern as far as a Rajinikanth film is concerned. The opening day (7 June) is slowly filling up but the weekend booking is dull.

Rajinikanth in a still from Kaala. YouTube

Rajinikanth in a still from Kaala. YouTube

As Rakesh Gowthaman of Vettri Theatre in Chrompet said, “ The advance booking for day one is good but for subsequent days in the weekend, the pressure for tickets is low. Normally for a Rajinikanth film, the entire weekend tickets get sold out within a few hours after the advance booking opens.” Trade sources say the advance booking is nowhere near Rajinikanth’s last release Kabali (2016). A leading multiplex operator in Chennai said, “ To be honest, the advance booking is not very encouraging,. His previous films like Endhiran and to a certain extent, Kabali's tickets for the entire first week were sold out within a day after advance booking opened. Now we are looking at a situation getting walk in crowds for the first week weekend”.

A leading distributor attributed the low key advance booking to Rajinikanth’s recent political statement regarding the controversial Thoothukudi incidents. Rajinikanth’s by now famous comments on Thoothukudi issue – “If you start protesting for each and everything, Tamil Nadu will become a graveyard”, has not gone down well among a section of the people in Tamil Nadu. He was trolled for it on social media. There is a wait-and-watch approach among a section of the traditional audience to watching Kaala, which clearly reflects on the tepid sale of tickets for the opening weekend.

The 7 June Kaala release date has also caused some problems. The schools have reopened after the long summer holidays and there is monsoon effect in many parts of the state which has dampened the enthusiasm among family audiences.  And it is the Ramzan fasting period which always results in drop in footfalls in cinema theatres, in parts of Tamil Nadu. The film is releasing on 7 June, a week ahead of the big Eid weekend (June 15), to avoid a clash with Salman Khan’s Race 3.

Another reason given by various theatre owners is that most screens in Tamil Nadu have increased their ticket rates marginally for the opening weekend on the advice of the distributors. In Chennai multiplexes, the ticket rate, which was Rs 165.78, has been hiked to Rs 207.25 for Kaala, as base price of ticket has been increased from Rs 120 to the government approved Rs 150 plus GST and LBET (Local Body Entertainment Tax).

Kollywood itself is not united or in support of Rajinikanth. Kamal Haasan, when asked after meeting Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumara Swami, whether they discussed the ban on Kaala by KFCC, Kamal replied, “I did not discuss about Kaala release issue with Karnataka CM, I think it was needless.” And to rub it in, actor Sathyaraj said, “ Rajinikanth’s Aanmeega Arasiyil (spiritual politics) means business. As a follower of Periyar, I live in peace. Please come into politics to serve people and not with any personal agenda.”

Trade analysts are surprised at the low key reception to Kaala advance booking, and are blaming it on Rajinikanth’s recent political moves and his utterances. Now, all eyes are on how big the film opens on Thursday (7 June) with early morning shows. If the film, likely to release in 600 to 650 screens in Tamil Nadu and nearly 2000 plus screens all over the world, has a good WOM (word-of-mouth), it will bring some comfort to the beleaguered superstar.

(Also read — Kaala: Tamil Nadu producers' guild president Vishal says protest against Rajinikanth's film sets a dangerous precedent)

Updated Date: Jun 06, 2018 11:47 AM