By Sreedhar Pillai
There is hardly 19 days left for the festival of lights –Diwali 2013 (November 2). But the fireworks have already begun in Kollywood, as three films- Ajith’s Arrambam, Karthi’s All in All Azhaguraja and Vishal’s Pandiya Naadu get ready for a Diwali release.
A bitter no-holds barred battle is brewing among the three to get maximum screens in Tamil Nadu, the biggest battle ground. Nearly 85 to 90 % of the theatrical collection is going to come out of TN. In short the film has to get maximum screens in Tamil Nadu to become a hit.
The new age business theory is that, the film which opens in the maximum screens gets the highest gross. The business is all about the opening weekend and nearly 75 % of the life time collection of a film comes in its first week. The rush is to get maximum screens and shows in the first week at the best of screens.
In Tamil Nadu at the last count there are roughly 936 screens out of which only 700 can release new films. The others are either in a dilapidated condition or touring talkies with single projectors. Out of the 700 releasing screens, a big star film has to bag 350 to 400 screens for that thundering opening.
And this Diwali it is an epic battle as all the three films are backed by solid money backs with sustaining power. The king of opening Ajith’s Vishnuvardhan directed Arrambam is touted as the biggest Diwali release. All areas of the film have been sold out, and leading distributors are backing it. The London based Ayngaran International is distributing it in NSC (Nort Arcot-South Arcot-Chengalpet) the biggest area in Tamil Nadu.
Studio Green one of the best production houses is behind Karthi’s All in All Azhaguraja. The Rajesh M directed family entertainer is very crucial for Karthi as his last few films were rather lukewarm at the box-office. Studio Green is aggressively marketing it as a Diwali biggie, and has booked nearly 300 screens in TN. In Chennai they got prestigious big capacity theatres like Albert, Shanthi, Woodlands and Kasi, where mass hero films open big. This is causing a lot of heartburn among Ajith fans who used to celebrate the opening in these screens with huge cut-out’s and Palabhishekam. And in other parts of Tamil Nadu too they have cornered the best of screens.
Meanwhile Vishal Film Factory has also joined the Diwali race with Vishal’s Suseenthiran directed Pandiya Naadu. The smart guy that he is, Vishal has got into a strategic tie-up with Vendhar Movies who will be marketing it while Gopuram Films will be distributing it. The market buzz is that they have already booked 150 screens.
And remaining 250 screens will go for Arrambam, which is not good enough for that “earth shaking opening” that one associates with an Ajith film. The trouble was that Arrambam producers started marketing their films very late in the day and lost out on screens. Now from somewhere Arrambam has to snatch the 150 screens, which may be with others.
In Chennai city the prestigious Sathyam big screen has allotted only two shows to Arrambam as the other two shows have been blocked by All in All Azhaguraja!
Meanwhile to add to the total confusion prevailing in the market, Hrithik Roshan’s Krrish 3 is also releasing big for Diwali in Tamil Nadu. The Kerala based Thameen Films is releasing it in Hindi and Tamil in over 100 screens in TN. Remember Hindi films have become very popular in Tamil Nadu and recently Chennai Express did extraordinary business in the state
It clearly means in modern times only two big films can be accommodated for a festival like Diwali. The market buzz is that one of the films announced for Diwali will be postponed at the last minute due to either financial reasons or lack of screens. But the producers of all three films are confident that their film will see the light on Diwali day.