Vijay's Bigil likely to be a step above Karthi's Kaithi this Diwali after securing maximum screens worldwide

Sreedhar Pillai

Oct 23, 2019 08:01:11 IST

It is going to be a cracker of a Diwali in Kollywood, as one of the biggest superstar’s in Tamil Cinema, Vijay, will have his film Bigil pitched against Karthi-starrer Kaithi. Diwali from MGR days was the most coveted festival date in Tamil cinema, though today, it is the second biggest after Pongal. For every big Tamil hero worth his box office clout, a release on the day of the festival of lights is a matter of pride and prestige. Actually, Vijay Sethupathi’s Sangha Thamizhan was also slated to release on the festival, but owing to non-availability of screens, it was postponed to November.

 Vijays Bigil likely to be a step above Karthis Kaithi this Diwali after securing maximum screens worldwide

Vijay in a still from Bigil. YouTube

The late Film News Anandan, in his writings on Tamil cinema, had once mentioned how important the Diwali tradition is in Tamil Nadu – “An early morning oil bath, a sumptuous breakfast with special sweets, wearing new clothes, and watching a Diwali Tamil superstar release is what makes it special.” Once upon a time, in the 1980s and '90s, Tamil superstars like Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan used to have regular Diwali releases. Later, Vijay and Ajith too had locked horns during Diwali times, which led to fan frenzy. Those days, when big films did not have such wide release, multiple movies could dominate the Diwali release window. But with worldwide big releases, it was a task to get maximum screens, with one single big movie dominating the box office. 

For fans of Tamil superstars, watching their idol get a Diwali release is more prestigious and coveted than any other festival date. And for the last two years, Vijay has been holding on to the Diwali festival date, just like how Salman Khan in Bollywood has a sort of monopoly over Eid releases. In the last two years, Vijay had two back to back Diwali hits – Mersal (2017) and Sarkar (2018). This year, he seems to be on a hat-trick with Bigil. One of Vijay’s biggest hits, and a landmark film in his career, Thuppakki, too released on Diwali in 2012. So when Karthi-starrer Kaithi decided to enter the Diwali release race, it surprised the trade as it had to challenge Vijay-starrer Bigil. Both the films are backed by reputed production houses. Bigil is produced by AGS Entertainment while Kaithi comes from Dream Warrior Pictures.

A leading financier and Tamil distributor says, “I would say it is a smart move to pit a smaller film against a bigger film, like a few years back, when Pepsi used to do ambush marketing on Coke, and at the, end get some brownie points. Early this year for the big Pongal festival, Rajinikanth's Petta was ambushed by Ajith’s Viswasam, which ended up collecting more in Tamil Nadu. At that time itself, the trade realised that in future, for festivals, there will always be two big films pitted against each other. And every year, when 200 odd Tamil films are releasing, and every Friday is overcrowded, it makes sense to release two biggies on a festival date.”

Bigil is clearly the most preferred film among exhibitors and distributors worldwide, and should get prime showcasing, as it is a Vijay film. The creative producer of Bigil, Archana Kalpathy, in her interviews, has said the film has cost AGS Entertainment a whopping Rs 180 crore.  The Tamil Nadu theatrical rights of the film have been sold by the producers to distributor Screen Scene Media Entertainments for a record price. And if the distributor has to get back his money, they have to get maximum screens and shows across Tamil Nadu’s 1112 odd screens, and also get a high MG (Minimum Guarantee) amount from theatres. The trade also points out more number of ‘fan shows’ at higher ticket rates have to be played to recover the investment.

Meanwhile, there is a huge tussle going on between the two films, prior to the release, to get maximum screens. A few days before the Bigil trailer was released, Kaithi came out with its trailer. They received the certification around the same time. And both the films have got a U/A Certificate, with Bigil having a run time of 179 minutes while Kaithi has a run time of 147 minutes.

The release date of both the films was kept under the wraps for tactical reasons. Earlier, it was said both films will release on the Diwali day (27 October), as per tradition, since the festival falls on a Sunday this year. Finally, on 17 October evening, both the films came out simultaneously with an announcement of a 25 October (Friday) release. It means a straight fight at the worldwide box office. All distributors, especially those outside Tamil Nadu, heaved a collective sigh of relief, as now the films will be able to bank on the big Diwali weekend.

Normally, Tamil Diwali films release on the festival day, even if it is a Monday or a Tuesday. This year, the festival falls on a Sunday, so the rest of the world wanted a Friday release.

All eyes and talking points across the world in the film trade and fans are on the Kollywood epic clash between Bigil and Kaithi.

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Updated Date: Oct 23, 2019 10:26:20 IST