Kollywood strike continues to cripple industry; higher footfall for Avengers: Infinity War than Tamil films
Kollywood strike has left a huge backlog and producers are trying to push out films before Rajinikanth-starrer Kaala hits the screens on 7 June.
Has Kollywood gained anything after the 48-day strike, which ended in the third week of April? Last week, a few disgruntled producers were blaming Vishal, actor and Tamil Film Producers Council (TFPC) chief for the mess-up in the industry. The ‘no-new releases’ policy of Vishal during the strike when he took on theatres and DSPs (digital service providers), left behind a pile of unreleased films. And the audiences who were fed on Tamil films especially in small towns and rural areas, lost interest as the strike got prolonged.
When the strike was finally withdrawn and new releases were screened (from 20 April), the footfalls in cinema theatres across Tamil Nadu were dismal. Said S Pictures Srinivasan, who controls a large number of screens in North and South Arcot, “ The denial of new releases crippled the trade, and our regular audiences who used to lap up new Tamil releases lost interest and even now we are feeling the pinch.”
The big summer hit in Tamil Nadu is a Hollywood film Avengers: Infinity War with a Tamil dubbing. The tentpole did extraordinary business and grossed a whopping Rs 30 crore with a net box-office of Rs 22 crore from Tamil Nadu. Rakesh Gowthaman of Vettri Theatres in Chrompet, a suburb of Chennai, said, “ Avengers: Infinity War actually saved the trade in Tamil Nadu from going bust. It had superb collections and worked wonders due to family audiences and lack of competition from Tamil films.”
After the strike period was over, an avalanche of new Tamil releases hit the screens from May onwards. Suddenly three or four small and medium films started hitting the screens every week. There was total chaos as TFPC tried to control new releases based on their date of their certification. Films which were given release dates faced financial issues at the last minute. Aravind Swamy’s Bhaskar Oru Rascal which was to release on 11 May, got its release pushed by a week at the last moment as its producer could not settle his dues. It also created a lot of bad blood as many others wanted to release their films for summer but had to hold on due to TFPC insisting on their release list.
And those films which got released had to compete with OLF (other language films) like Avengers: Infinity War, Mahanati and Raazi, which got prime screens in multiplexes. Too many Tamil releases resulted in a sort of cannibalisation of the screens as most of them got limited shows, and one week run before newer releases displaced them. The big summer hit after the strike period was the Gautham Karthik adult comedy Iruttu Araiyil Murattu Kuththu, which was lapped up by the young audiences. Last week, cyber crime thriller Vishal’s Irumbu Thirai, has taken a good opening and is being liked by family audiences for its ‘thangachi pasam’ (sister sentiments).
Now this Friday (18 May), five films are releasing against the norm of three releases allowed by TFPC. They are – Aravind Swamy’s delayed Bhaskar Oru Rascal, Vijay Antony’s Kaali, two small films Seyal and Paalkari. But big screens and prime shows are going to Ryan Reynolds-starrer Deadpool 2 in English and its Tamil dubbed version. As usual, at the last minute, Atharva Murali’s Semma Botha Aagathey release got postponed by a week. More alarming is that next Friday (25 May), seven Tamil films have announced their release date. It looks like everybody wants to release before Rajinikanth-starrer Kaala hits the screens on 7 June.
Veteran actor T Rajendran blames Vishal for the current crisis in the industry. A lot of other people have voiced their concern over this release rush, which they blame on the seven-week strike. Some eagerly awaited May releases like Gautham Karthik and his father Karthik coming together mass entertainer Mr Chandramouli, which was scheduled to release on 25 May has been pushed to June end. Another anticipated biggie, Jayam Ravi’s space adventure Tik, Tik, Tik, has been pushed to a 22 June release.
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