Surge Continues on Silverscreen as Variety Rules - The New Indian Express

Surge Continues on Silverscreen as Variety Rules

Published: 31st December 2013 05:37 PM

Last Updated: 31st December 2013 05:37 PM

Quantity

It was indeed a defining year for the Malayalam film industry as the total number of films released in 2013 ended at 158. (This can be listed as 168, considering four anthologies consisting of 14 films). Mollywood in 2013 almost aped a slow-paced thriller. Though the year churned out a humongous number of films to make it the largest industry in the country in terms of number of films, the biggest grosses came in the 50th week of the year in the form Mohanlal-starrer ‘Drishyam’. The family thriller directed by Jeethu Joseph, which released on December 19, set the cash registers ringing at the BO and continues to soar even as the year comes to a close. Though the industry had nearly two dozen hits, more than any other year, ‘Romans’ and ‘ABCD’ were the only films to be termed as blockbusters, going by the theatre collection.

Quality Please

The year gave a new kind of courage to filmmakers who came out with a variety of films. This was evident from the success of a series of off-the-beaten-track films like ‘Shutter’, ‘Memories’, ‘Neram’, ‘ABCD’, ‘Romans’, ‘Philips and the Monkey Pen’, ‘Punyalan Agarbattis’, ‘North 24 Katham’ etc. Even as ‘Drishyam’ was well received for its novelty, all other films of Mohanlal evoked a lukewarm response this year. It was not just Lal who had to contend with failure. Films of many other big names were also rejected by cinegoers. The box office disasters of ‘Ezhamathe Varavu’, ‘Ladies and Gentleman’, ‘Lokpal’, ‘Kadal Kadannu Oru Mathukkutty’, ‘Kunjanthante Kada’, ‘Olipporu’, ‘Kalimannu’, ‘Geethanjali’ etc is testimony to this.

Wrong Signal

For the past few years, the industry largely depended on the satellite rights, as it filled the vacuum created by the B and C centres and acted as a ‘minimum guarantee’ for a number of films. Many-an-occasion, it went beyond 80 per cent of the production cost, and then came the deluge of films. The major turning point this year was the plummeting rates in satellite rights. The television industry in the state decided to discontinue its generous funding to all films as many of them took a beating at the box-office. As the TV industry began to play safe, apparently due to the new ad restrictions imposed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, several new films had no takers. According to industry sources, nearly half of the films released this year did not do the ‘satellite business’ which otherwise made them, ‘safe’ or ‘profit on table’.

The channels might have taken a cue from the poor box-office performance of ‘Kadal Kadannu Oru Mathukkutty’, ‘Ladies and Gentleman’ and ‘Geethanjali’ - all boasting of mega stars and all bought by TV Channels for a hefty sums, ranging between `4.75 crore and `5.50 crore. The Mammootty-Dileep starrer ‘Kammath and Kammath’ and Dileep’s ‘Sound Thoma’ and ‘Sringaravelan’ also bagged good amount from the TV industry while they managed to do decent business in the theatres too.

Business

Not more than 25 films could ensure at least a flutter in the box-office as the rest went unnoticed and the main reason can be the deluge of releases and lesser number of theatres. The tragedy would be complete while knowing the case of a film which was made at a cost of `2.20 crore - it could bag an all-Kerala collection of just `1,75,000!. To add to the woes of the producer, the film did not earn anything from the channels too.

Even with a high number, the market is still small as the total number of theatres in the state is less than 500 and the release centres come to around 250. However, the trend is positive as the number of screens is showing an increase. There is clear signal from the movie house owners that they really want to entertain the customers. A number of theatres are getting refurbished and nearly 50 new screens were added this year and nearly 50 are under construction, though on most occasions at the cost of splitting existing theatres to counter the invasion of giants to the multiplex entertainment sector.

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