Vijay's Master unlikely to release on 9 April due coronavirus outbreak; no word from producers about postponement
The big ticket event in recent times in Kollywood was the audio launch of Tamil cinema’s leading superstar Vijay’s Master.
It was held last Sunday evening in Chennai at a closed door event at the banquet hall of a 5-star hotel, sans any fanfare. Normally Vijay’s audio launches are huge events held in indoor stadiums with thousands of fans congregating in a festival like atmosphere. This time it was scaled down and made to look low key, as Vijay was in the centre of a storm after income tax raids in his house and properties. The organisers also wanted it to play it down due to the coronavirus threat in the country.
The event was telecast as a ‘deferred live’ on Sun TV on the day of the launch and it went viral, creating a huge impact with record TRPs. Vijay, who is normally a casual dresser, was in a black suit and said he is dressed like his “good friend Ajith for a change”. This went down well with the fans of both stars who are always daggers drawn on social media platforms.
A day after the Master audio launch, the Tamil Nadu government announced a complete shutdown of cinema halls, malls and education institutes in the face of the coronavirus threat. And with film shootings also halted, there is a complete lockdown in Tamil film industry. This has put the carefully laid out release plans of Master team in disarray. The Lokesh Kanagaraj directed film was supposed to be a quickie; it started its shoot in September last year and was to release on 9 April, as the big summer 2020 attraction. In fact the 9 April release date was touted to be extremely profitable as it lies on the Easter, Tamil New Year and Vishu weekend with 5-days of continuous holidays.
G Dhananjayan a leading producer and distributor whose Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban was scheduled to release on 20 March has been postponed indefinitely, has said, “Coronavirus has created a complete shutdown of theatres and stoppage of shooting for two or three weeks. It will be total shutdown till the end of March. The entire release schedule will go haywire as biggies planned for April will be pushed depending on the situation. And the release of films under production is going to get delayed. All the stake holders in the industry should meet once the lockdown is lifted and work out a strategy as we produce nearly 200 Tamil films a year. We should follow fair trade practices and come out with a new release schedule.”
Actors like Vijay, Ajith or Suriya are also as popular outside Tamil Nadu especially in overseas markets. They are pan Indian stars with phenomenal reach outside Tamil Nadu markets, which means a film like Master cannot release as planned or go for only a Tamil Nadu release. The international market is in complete shambles as most theatres are not functioning, with complete closure in Europe, Gulf and North America. Tamil cinema's biggest international markets like Malaysia, Singapore and emerging Australia, are also facing partial closure of cinema halls.
Hollywood and Bollywood have already announced that their summer 2020 releases are getting pushed, but in Kollywood nobody has announced an official change in release dates. The summer biggies announced in Tamil slated for release during April/May are Vijay’s Master, Suriya’s Soorarai Pottru, Dhanush’s Jagame Thandhiram, Jayam Ravi’s Bhoomi and Vikram’s Cobra. All these films are in final stages of post production except Cobra, whose shooting in St Petersburg in Russia’s Baltic region had to be suspended and the crew rushed back to India last Sunday following the coronavirus pandemic.
All eyes in Kollywood are now on Master, as its 9 April release is doubtful with major part of the overseas theatres under a lockdown. Vijay’s Master has a theatrical market value of Rs 55 Crores outside of Tamil Nadu (Rs 30 Crs overseas + Karnataka, Kerala and Telugu dubbing and Rest Of India multiplexes valuation of another Rs 25 Cr), will find it difficult to release under prevailing circumstances. It’s now almost certain that the film is highly unlikely to hit the screens on 9 April, though there is no official word from the producers. The other summer biggies in Tamil will also have to change their release dates accordingly.
Updated Date: Mar 17, 2020 14:33:42 IST
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