3 min read.Updated: 09 Sep 2021, 12:50 PM ISTLata Jha
‘Thalaivii’ has already sold the digital streaming rights for all languages for around ₹55 crore. While the Hindi film rights went to Netflix, the Tamil and Telugu versions were bought by Amazon Prime Video
New Delhi: Kangana Ranaut-starrer Thalaivii is set to recover its investment and make profits even though major multiplex chains like PVR Cinemas, INOX Leisure Ltd and Cinepolis refused to screen the Hindi version of the film in north India.
The film that cost ₹40-45 crore has already sold the digital streaming rights for all languages for around ₹55 crore. While the Hindi film rights went to Netflix, the Tamil and Telugu versions were bought by Amazon Prime Video.
Additionally, the film will make box office revenue with its release in nearly 1,000-1,200 theatres -- both single screen and multiplexes -- on 10 September. Film trade experts expect the film to do well in southern states as it is based on the life of popular actor-politician J. Jayalalithaa. The southern market has supported Telugu films after the second wave and will see the Tamil market opening this week. This could bring in close to Rs. 20 crore for the film given the current restrictions on theatre occupancy and show timings.
National multiplex chains will play the Tamil and Telugu versions of the film but have been at loggerheads with the producers who have agreed to an OTT (over-the-top) premiere for the Hindi version on Netflix within 14 days. They'll screen the Tamil and Telugu versions as it will stream on Amazon Prime Video only after four weeks.
“It’s a win-win situation for the producers who have already made profits on the table. The only reason the film is coming to cinemas is because theatrical release was a promise made by the team earlier," independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai said.
A wider Hindi release for the film would have anyway not served well with cinemas in Maharashtra, which contributes about 30% of overall Hindi film box office, not having been granted permits to reopen, Pillai added.
Trade analysts point to the underwhelming box office collections of Akshay Kumar’s Bellbottom that could end its theatrical run with around Rs. 30 crore, a drastic drop from Kumar’s pre-covid releases, many of which had breached the Rs. 200 crore mark in box office revenue.
The southern market is much better placed than Hindi to help bring returns for new releases. The success of Telugu language titles such as SR Kalyanamandapam, Thimmarasu and Raja Raja Chopra after the second covid wave, has encouraged the industry to lock dates for star-studded films such as Allu Arjun’s Pushpa, Prabhas’s Radhe Shyam, Mahesh Babu’s Sarkaru Vaari Paata and Pawan Kalyan’s Bheemla Nayak.
Baahubali director SS Rajamouli’s next RRR is also expected to make an announcement soon. Marvel’s superhero flick Shang-Chi and The Legend of Ten Rings released last week, saw nearly 50% of its day one business coming from the four southern states (with Kerala still closed), according to trade website Box Office India. About Rs. 2 crore of the Rs. 10.75 crore made by the Hollywood film over the weekend came from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
Film producer, trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar said the southern market having opened up is a lucky coincidence for Ranaut’s film which has also been promoted heavily down south and whose makers have taken a calculated step to de-risk their investments by opting for an early digital release. Moreover, Ranaut’s last major release Manikarnika- The Queen of Jhansi had also done decently in southern markets when released in 2019, making Rs. 1.19 crore in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and Rs. 4.12 crore in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.
“Poor performance of Bellbottom has led to a dip in producer confidence and hence no large Hindi film release dates have been announced. Opening up of Maharashtra remains key, as does increased vaccination and lower active or new cases that could lead to relaxations in the form of occupancy and show timings," Karan Taurani, senior vice-president, Elara Capital Ltd said.
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