Express News Service
CHENNAI : When Baasha released on January 12, 1995, little did fans think it would be almost another 25 years before they got another Pongal release from ‘Superstar’ Rajinikanth. Ajith, who had acted in barely half a dozen films at that time, is now a star in his own right, and will be taking on Rajini for the box-office honours this Pongal, when his Viswasam releases alongside Petta on Thursday.
However the films fare, the release of two big-budget movies on the same day has brought much cheer to the Tamil film industry. Of the 1,000 screens in Tamil Nadu, close to 900 have been allotted to Viswasam and Petta. “The other 100 screens will be featuring the three Telugu releases and a few English films,” said Tirupur Subramanian, the newly-elected president of the Tamil Nadu Theatre and Multiplex Owners Association (TNTMOA). Srinivasan, secretary of TNTMOA, handling North Arcot and South Arcot zones, says that Ajith’s Viswasam is edging out Petta by 60-40 outside of the three Cs (Chennai, Chengalpet and Coimbatore).
Meanwhile, the industry is also eagerly awaiting the government order that will enable them to add one extra show. As things stand right now, theatres are allowed to show four shows on weekdays and five on weekends. Subramaniam feels that with the extra show, at least 10 per cent more footfalls can be expected, which could turn into a 3-4 per cent increase in revenue.
“I do expect though that for both Petta and Viswasam, the first four days (till January 13) will see a lot of hardcore fans coming to the theatres. Only from January 14 will the families start coming in,” he predicts.
National Award-winning author, producer and trade expert Dhananjayan agrees. “This Pongal is quite special because I don’t think we have, in recent times, seen two big films getting 10 days of free run time. This is unprecedented. Given that big films that release over a festival weekend typically garner 1.5 times the regular returns, I see both Petta and Viswasam getting nothing less than twice the return,” he says.
Subramaniam believes theatres will benefit a lot. “It has been a good two months for the business. After the success of 2.0, even though we saw a whole bunch of films coming out for Christmas, theatres still enjoyed a lot of footfalls, thanks to the good content,” he notes.
Petta is expected to release in 150-200 screens in Andhra and Telangana. In Kerala too, it seems to have got close to 130 screens. Karnataka has allocated 350 screens for Petta, making it as big a release as any top Kannada film. In Mumbai, given the success of 2.0 and the presence of Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Petta, it is expected to get a good run, at least till the Bal Thackeray biopic releases the following week. In Qatar, pre-booking has started for Petta for 40 shows while Viswasam has bagged 28 shows. However, Viswasam seems to have won in UAE with over 50 shows compared to 40 for Petta. Seventh Sense Cinema, which released Rajinikanth’s 2.0 in Russia, has revealed it will be releasing both Petta and Viswasam in Russia and Ukraine.
Source: The New Indian Express