On February 17, there were five new releases, on February 24, three releases, on March 3, four releases, on March 10, three releases, on March 17, five new films and on March 24 there were seven more new releases. This trend may continue with numerous films under production.
With this rush, the challenge is to get screens as Tamil Nadu has only 1050 screens and with limited screens, their availability for new releases is also limited.
On February 17, Kadhal Kan Kattuthe, appreciated by everyone could release only in 31 screens and got just 10 shows in Chennai city. In its second week, it had just one show!
Kanavu Variyam, despite winning two Remy awards and Warner Bros releasing the film on February 24, could manage just 35 shows in Chennai and less than 100 screens across Tamil Nadu. The film had no shows in the second week!
Kuttram 23 , was released with 106 shows in Chennai on March 3 and despite excellent reviews, it managed only 61 shows next week, due to three films releasing that week. In its 3rd week, the film had only 16 shows reflecting how even a good film gets affected by continuous releases.
What’s happening is cannibalisation of good films. Arun Vijay, lead actor of Kuttram 23, said with disappointment in an interview that the film should have become a super hit, but with fewer shows and piracy in second week, the film became just a hit.
Nisabdham released on March 10 with just 7 shows in Chennai and despite appreciation, could not sustain a single show by second week. The film would not have earned even its release cost through this limited release situation.
Though critical appreciation was pouring in from its premiere, Maanagaram was released with just 42 shows in Chennai on March 10, due to a big budget film releasing that week ( Motta Shiva Ketta Shiva ) and the previous week’s release Kuttram 23 sustaining well. Due to excellent response from the audience, the number of shows in its second week rose to over 66 in the city and got more number of shows (77) even in the third week.
Motta Shiva Ketta Shiva began with 234 shows in Chennai on March 9 but with poor reviews, sustained only 38 shows from second week. Such is the pressure for shows for even big budget films!
On March 17, there were five releases but these films had very few shows in Chennai ( Kanna Pinna with just 4 shows, Oru Mugathirai with 9 shows and Vaanga Vaanga with no shows). Only artiste based films ( Bruce Lee and Kattappava Kanom ) could muster more than 50 shows each. With 7 films released on March 24, none of them managed a single show in their second week.
Today, highly appreciated films end up becoming just hits and good films end up as average or no-earners. Need of the hour is streamlining and ensuring every film gets a decent release. As actor Vishal said in an interview, “None of the producers will be benefited by this kind of crammed release. We need to plan each and every release, so that it is beneficial to producers.” If that is not possible, the option for producers with good content is to tie-up with established distributors to release their films as we have seen in the success of films like Dhruvangal 16, Athey Kangal, Kuttram 23 and Maanagaram.
Tamil cinema cannot sustain more than three films a week. This week, another small budget gem Kadugu got released with decent number of screens due to its tie up with Suriya’s 2D Entertainment. Good films like Kadugu deserve to get more screens but that is possible only when there is rationalised release every week.
G. Dhananjayan, Film Pro ducer, National Award Winning Author, Columnist and Found er-Dean of BOFTA Film Institute in Chennai.