Variety

How IPL, polls have stolen the thunder of Tamil movies in peak season

NARAYANAN V Chennai | Updated on April 12, 2019 Published on April 11, 2019

Traditionally, April and May are peak business months during which movie halls see more footfalls. File Photo

Low occupancy at movie halls as cricket frenzy puts big releases on hold

With no major movie releases and poor footfalls in theatres, Tamil cinema is going through a dry spell this summer as the election fervour and IPL frenzy appear to be keeping audiences away from the silver screen during the key holiday season.

“Our April collection this year is the lowest in the last two years,” said Rakesh Gowthaman, Managing Director, Vettri Theatres. He also said that although April and May are vacation months, it is only during April that people hit the theatres keeping May for trips with family.

Traditionally, April and May are peak business months when movie halls see more footfalls, particularly by young and family audience, due to the summer vacation. But this year, many movie halls are wearing an almost deserted look. The low number of movie releases is also a factor.

“So we have already missed this holiday season,” Gowthaman added.

Election impact

While some film exhibitors feel that the IPL, which is coming back to Chennai after a gap of three years, is having an impact on movie releases, others attribute the sluggishness to the elections.

“IPL has already become part and parcel of our life but elections are having a big impact on movie releases,” Gowthaman said, adding that since new releases are not coming forth, theatres are running short of movies.

Actor Vishal’s Ayogya and few other small movies slated for release later this week have postponed their release to May 10.

No big releases

This Tamil New Year (April 14) will see no big-star, high-budget movie release. Actor Raghava Lawrence’s Kanchana 3 on April 19 and Sivakarthikeyan’s Mr Local on May 1 are the only big summer releases in Tamil while Avengers: Endgame from the Marvel series from Hollywood will be the other big release on April 26.

For the Tamil New Year week, actor GV Prakash Kumar’s Watchman and Hollywood’s HellBoy hit the screens on Friday.

Dismissing the claim of any ‘election fever’ in the State, Abirami Ramanathan, Managing Director of Abirami Mega Mall and President of Tamil Nadu Cinema Theatre Owners’ Federation, said producers are holding back movie releases fearing failure due to IPL.

“April and May are the best season for both IPL and movies, so we have to learn to live with it,” Ramanathan added.

“There is definitely a drop in occupancy as well as collections in the last two weeks but not sure if it’s due to elections or IPL,” said Archana Kalpathi, CEO, AGS Cinemas.

Concurring that there is some delay in movie releases, Kalpathi said movies with good content will perform irrespective of elections or cricket.

“With Avengers, Kalank and few other big movies coming up after April 19, I see things picking up,” Kalapathi added.

Ironically, last year, Tamil film producers waged an acrimonious battle for screen space to release their movies.

A strike call by the Tamil Film Producer Council (TFPC) on March 1, which went on till mid-April, stalled all movie releases. Although the stalemate ended after 48 days, issues of screen crowding and small movies getting crowded out persisted till the end of the year.

Box-office winners

In terms of box office performance, Rajinikanth’s Petta, Ajith’s Viswasam, Arun Vijay’s Thadam and RJ Balaji’s LKG are the four movies that made profits out of the 50-plus movies released so far. Besides, recent releases such as actor-director Vijay Kumar’s Uriyadi 2 and Hip Hop Tamizha’s Natpe Thunai have also received rave reviews besides garnering a decent collection.

“This is one of the blockbuster year for Tamil Cinema in terms of box office collection. For the first time both Petta and Viswasam crossed ₹100-crore collection in Tamil Nadu despite releasing on the same day,” said South Indian movie tracker Prashanth Rangaswamy.

“It also demonstrated that two big movies can be released in Pongal slot and both can make profit,” Rangaswamy added.

Published on April 11, 2019
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