Rajinikanth's Petta, Ajith's Viswasam compete for 1000 screens in Tamil Nadu ahead of Pongal release
Rajinikanth's Petta and Ajith's Viswasam will have to compete against not only each other but also three huge Telugu Sakranthi releases, including Vinaya Vidheya Rama.
Kollywood is gearing up for its biggest festival season – Pongal. Normally big star movies release during this period, which traditionally reports the highest footfalls of the year. Pongal or the harvest season in Tamil Nadu brings family audiences in troves, especially in rural areas, as it is a 10-day holiday period for educational institutes.
Pongal 2019 is going to be special as Rajinikanth’s new film Petta clashes with Ajith Kumar-starrer Viswasam, as both have announced a 10 January release. The Pongal releases are trending on social media and are more talked about than the Tiruvarur by-election in the star-crazy Tamil Nadu. G Dhananjayan, Tamil film producer and historian, said, “If Rajinikanth is the big Tamil global superstar with phenomenal reach, there is a huge craze for Ajith and Vijay in Tamil Nadu, where they are known as kings of opening.”
Petta is facing stiff opposition from Viswasam in the race to get maximum screens in Tamil Nadu. For the first time in 13 years, another star film is releasing along with a Rajinikanth film on the same day. Pongal can easily accommodate two or three films but when two big hero films clash, the screens get divided.
Petta has Rajinikanth teaming up with young director Karthik Subbaraj, and has a multi-star cast comprising of Vijay Sethupathi, Sasikumar, Bobby Simhaa, Simran, Trisha and Bollywood actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui. It is produced by Sun Pictures. Viswasam also has Nayanthara and top comedian Yogi Babu, with Jagapathi Babu playing the villain. It is produced by one of the oldest companies, Sathya Jyothi Films. Both the films from the trailers, are clearly mass entertainers, targeting the fan base of the actors.
There are around 1000 screens in Tamil Nadu, which will get split between the two films. Rajinikanth's 2018 films — Kaala and 2.0 — released in around 700 to 750 screens in Tamil Nadu and got all four shows, which helped the film to get a record opening. Ajith’s last film Vivegam too got a solo release in 600 plus screens. Now, the 1000 odd screens will get divided between Petta and Viswasam, with multiplexes in the 3Cs — Chennai City, Chengalpet and Coimbatore — giving equal shows to both films. But outside of the urban 3Cs in south Tamil Nadu, single screens call the shots. As of now, screens have to be shared between the two.
Rakesh Gowthaman of Vettri Theatre in Chrompet, a suburb of Chennai, said, “Two big films, Thalaivar’s Petta and Thala’s Viswasam, are releasing on the same day, and will eat into each other’s collection. There should have been a few days’ differences between the two releases as normally, a Superstar film gets a solo release. Now, I will be playing two shows each of Petta and Viswasam per day in my big screen, and the fifth Pongal special show will be given to the film which has maximum online booking. The opening will definitely get split down the middle.”
Veteran theatre owner Abirami Ramanathan says, “I think Pongal can accommodate two big films and depending on the content, we will know the winner after a few days and from second week, more shows will be allotted to that film. In the future too, you can expect clashes between two big films and nobody is going to get that big solo release.”
Meanwhile, the fans of both the stars Rajinikanth and Ajith (who has a huge presence on social media), are going the extra mile to aggressively push for their hero. At the time of the launch of Viswasam, the producers Sathya Jyothi had announced a Pongal 2019 release. Sun Pictures, the producers of Petta, had announced the release date only after the film was complete. Rajinikanth’s Petta, outside of Tamil Nadu, has an edge over Ajith’s Viswasam, especially in the overseas market.
However there is stiff competition for the Tamil Pongal biggies from three Telugu big Sankranthi releases — Balakrishna’s NTR biopic Kathanayakudu, Ram Charan-starrer Vinaya Vidheya Rama and Venkatesh-Varun Tej's multi-starrer F2. The Tamil biggies have to fight for screens in the key markets of the two Telugu states, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, along with Karnataka and the US. The dubbed Telugu version of 2.0 was a huge hit, but now, the Telugu version of Petta has to fight against the Telugu films for screens in the Telugu-speaking states. The release date of the Telugu dubbed version of Viswasam has been pushed.
All eyes in Kollywood are on the Petta versus Viswasam battle at the box office. At the moment, there is no clear winner, as the trailers of both the films are impressive and had gone viral at the time of the release.
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