By Sreedhar Pillai
The first half of 2014 has been a mixed bag for Kollywood. As per Tamil film chronicler and statistician Film News Anandan, 103 straight films were released in the first six months of 2014.
Out of this, nearly 10 were successful at the box-office, including films which will break even. A success ratio of approximately 10 % is not bad, compared to last year's figure for the corresponding period. During the same period in 2013, 88 films were released out of which only 5 were successful.
However 2014 has seen a record number of releases in the first half of the year. And the way films are releasing, it looks like we are in for 200 plus releases by the end of the year.
The first half of 2014, has been the year of the underdog with small films made on a shoe-string budget, working big at the box-office. The films which have been declared hits by the trade based on ROI (return-on-investment) are Manja Pai, Yamirukka Bayamey, Goli Soda, Thegidi, Mundasupatti and Cuckoo. It maybe sheer coincidence that most of these films were directed by debutants. All these films are profitable for their producers from theatrical, television, dubbing or remake rights.
According to R Panneerselvam, president of the Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners Association:"Manja Pai and Yamirukku Bayamey are the two biggest hits on the basis of ROI. Both these films recovered their cost of production and made profits from theatricals alone. The big hero films like Veeram and Jilla have grossed more, but ROI is low."
The secret of success seems to be decent content, U certificate, entertainment tax waiver and aggressive promotions. As Elred Kumar producer of Yamirukka Bayamey said: "I feel a successful film should have a storyline which attracts the audiences and should be made at the right cost and marketed well."
Thirrupathi Brothers Lingusamy and his brother Subashchandra Bose seems to have a knack for picking up the right content, as Manja Pai and Goli Soda are two of the most profitable films in the first half of the year. The biggest example of small is beautiful is the success story of Manja Pai. The film was torn by the critics and said it looked like a 1980's melodrama. But Thirrupathi Brothers were confident about the film and promoted it aggressively as a family film.
It worked as the film made on a shoe string budget of Rs 4.5 Crore plus additional Rs 2.5 Crore thrown in for print and publicity is likely to do a lifetime theatrical business in the range of Rs 8 to 10 Crore. The satellite television rights were sold to Zee Tamil after film became a hit for a whopping Rs 5.25 Crores. Later the remake rights in Telugu, Kannada and Hindi were snapped for a rumoured Rs 2 Crore. In short on a total investment of Rs 7.5 Crore, the returns are approximately double, fantastic by any yardstick.
G Dhananjayan of UTV feels:"I won't say all small films are successful. New concept based films which entertained, engaged and emotionally connected with the audiences have succeeded. The key seems to be to meet the minimum requirements of theatre going audiences."
However Panneerselvam, was cautious and said: "It has been a good half-yearly only for the producers of small films made on a budget. The theatres are facing a crisis due to rampant piracy and there has not been an increase in ticket prices for years as electricity and all other charges have increased. Overall it is not a rosy picture as number of flops are more than ever before".
Now all eyes are on the second half of the year, which will see another 100 odd films releasing. Says Hari Govind of Ambatur Rakki Multiplex: "July to December is going to be a very crucial period as the trade is looking for some big hero films to succeed at the box-office. The big hero films not only have to take a good opening but also sustain. We are hoping that the state government will hear our plea for a marginal increase in ticket rates, as cost of operations are going through the roof."
The trade is eagerly looking at the biggies lined up for the second half of the year- Suriya's Anjaan directed by Lingusamy on August 15, Kamal Haasan's Uttama Villain in September end, Vijay’s Kaththi in October end for Diwali, Ajith’s Thala55 in November and Superstar Rajinikanth's Lingaa on his birthday on December 12. It cannot get bigger than this.