Rajinikanth-Akshay Kumar's 2.0 gets 29 November release: Why it may benefit from non-festive opening

Devansh Sharma

Jul,11 2018 16:49:19 IST

Lyca Productions, the makers of India's costliest film yet, Shankar's science fiction entertainer 2.0, have wisely distanced themselves from the temptation of reserving a festival release for the Rajinikanth-starrer, which is a festival in itself. After facing countless delays, mostly owing to the extensive VFX work, 2.0 is likely to finally see the light of the day on 29 November.

The film was initially slotted for Diwali last year, where it would have clashed with Aamir Khan's Secret Superstar and Ajay Devgn-starrer Golmaal Again. But the makers postponed the release to Republic Day in order to achieve "world-class" standards. Fans did not see that move coming as 2.0 was being promoted as 'Diwali 3D' or the perfect 'Diwali firecracker'. But the makers gave priority to quality over catchy marketing slogans.

Poster for 2.0/Image from Twitter

Poster for 2.0/Image from Twitter

Also, the shift to Republic Day was perceived as a blessing in disguise since 2.0 is hailed as an ideal example of a Make in India film. The movie is not only shot entirely in India but most of its crew are also Indians. However, the makers had tied up with an American VFX studio Rhythm and Hues, known for their Academy Award-winning finishing in films like Life of Pi. Particularly after the release of SS Rajamouli's path-breaking historical film Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, Lyca Productions was bound to invest more in their VFX department.

However, the studio reportedly breached their deal and caused incessant delays in completing the VFX process. The fact that 2.0 is pitched as Asia's most ambitious project till date did not help either. The further delay in completion of VFX compelled the makers to push the film once again, from 25 January to 14 April during the Vishu festival. But the makers of two big budget Telugu films, Mahesh Babu-starrer Bharat Ane Nenu and Allu Arjun-starrer Naa Peru Surya protested against the film's release as the Rajinikanth-starrer would have eaten into the market of films that had already locked their release dates for Vishu 2018. The Tamil Film Producers Council's strike only made matters worse for 2.0.

After the makers confirmed that 2.0 had been postponed again, this time indefinitely, trade analysts began debating what an ideal release date would be for the mega project. Diwali 2018, over a year after when 2.0 was originally scheduled to release, did seem like an option but it was ruled out since Yash Raj Films had already locked Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan-starrer period heist drama Thugs of Hindostan for the big festival release. Also, Suriya-starrer NGK and Vijay-starrer Sarkar (also Ajith-starrer Viswasam then) had already announced Diwali 2018 as their release date months ago. The makers of 2.0 could not afford yet more backlash from the industry, as well as a clash with two Bollywood stars' big-ticket film.

Another possible festival release was Christmas 2018 but it was also reserved for Shah Rukh Khan's Zero, in which he plays a dwarf. Thus, there was speculation that the most feasible release date for 2.0 seemed Republic Day 2019, though it will also see the release of Hrithik Roshan-starrer Super 30 and Emraan Hashmi's Cheat India. But to fans' surprise, the makers announced the unexpected but rather wise release date of 29 November 2018.

This is a smart move on part of the makers who have realised that Rajinikanth is not invincible at the box office, particularly when pitted against A-list Bollywood stars. Dhanush, the producer of Pa Ranjith's gangster drama Kaala, also pulled its release date a week ahead to 7 June in order to avoid its clash with Salman Khan's Race 3 on Eid. The big festival release date was overlooked for the greater good of both films. Also, 29 November seems like the perfect slot for a big film like 2.0 since it will hit the screens three weeks after Thugs of Hindostan and three weeks prior to Zero. Thus, both Thugs of Hindostan and 2.0 will enjoy sufficiently long runs to rake in money at the box office.

Additionally, the costs of 2.0 have been increasing day by day. A huge sum of Rs 100 crore was added to the film's budget in order to spruce up the VFX. The current budget is estimated to be around Rs 500 crore, more than the combined budgets of Aamir's Dangal and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion. 

In another logistical issue, Shankar has not been able to start another ambitious project, Indian 2 starring Kamal Haasan. Lyca Productions, which is bankrolling both films, asked Shankar to wrap up the final cut of 2.0 before getting to the casting of Indian 2. Haasan, like Rajinikanth, is on the verge of entering politics so Shankar is under twice the pressure to quickly complete both his films.

Thus, it is only better if 2.0 sees an early release. Given the recent success of Sanju, Raazi and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, there is no reason why a big (or small) film that does not coincide with a festival will not mint money. Films are both revered and celebrated in India, and the release of its most expensive film yet is bound to be no less than a grand festival.

Updated Date: Jul 11, 2018 16:49 PM