There was a record boom in Tamil film production in 2012. And the forecast for this year is that production will cross the magic figure of 200 plus. It does not mean boom time as the flop percentage is a very high 90%.
The plethora of small films has actually killed theatrical business. On a Pongal day a small film released in a multiplex had just 13 people to watch it in the smallest screen, which had a seating capacity of 126!
This Tamil film was removed after noon show due to lack of audiences. It was replaced by an extra show of a hit comedy film for matinee, which went houseful!
And single screens too are avoiding playing small films with unknown stars. They feel a dubbed action or masala film from English or Telugu will draw more audiences. Most small films cannot survive beyond the release day in theatres, due to lack of audiences.
Recently another small film with a debutant hero purchased all the tickets in advance at the 115 seater multiplex screen, which had reluctantly given it one show a day. The rich producer shelled out nearly a lakh and got it technically ‘houseful’ for a week !
A spokesperson of a theatre complex: “Some small films are just looking for a theatrical release before showing it on television. In most cases there are no audiences for such films and will not cover the cost of electricity for a show.”
The audiences preferences are always for big hero films, and may watch a small film only if the word-of-mouth is good. There is simply no opening for any film without a star.
Now the latest we hear is that theatres in Chennai city are insisting on a minimum theatre rental to screen small films. Says a theatre owner : “ It is like a cover price when you hold a party in a restaurant, meaning a minimum number of audiences per show which will cover atleast part of our cost in running the theatre and maintenance charge.”