CHENNAI: Ask anyone in the film fraternity about the idiom that most often symbolises a movie’s success. Nine in ten will point to ‘100 days’. Even at a time when many distributors say that films today are distributed in such a way that the opening collection of a film can make money for all parties concerned! Kollywood is at a stage today when films are largely considered a hit, even with a decent four-week run in theatres. This marks a huge shift for the industry, which has had blockbusters that have been in theatres for 112 weeks (Haridas), one year or, even recently, over 200 days (Paruthiveeran).
This is a situation primarily caused by the increase in the number of theatres and prints that a movie is released with. Films, traditionally, were released in four theatres in Chennai, Devi, Abirami, Udhayam and Albert.
But the situation has changed drastically from then, and today, films release in upto 20 theatres in Chennai alone.
One film that largely caused this shift and proved successful was Rajini’s Sivaji The Boss. The movie was released in a record in 18 theatres across the city. The film, industry pundits say, was among the first to be released with an eye to bring in all the audiences within the first two weeks of the movie’s release, thereby ensuring that they all watch it on the large screen before the entry of pirated DVDs.
And regarded as a pioneer in this method was film distributor Abirami Ramanathan, who bought Sivaji The Boss’s distribution rights for Chennai city. In fact, all four screens of his theatre chain, Abirami Mall, screened only Sivaji The Boss, when it released in June 2008. “It’s an extraordinary fete today if the film lasts a 100 days, given the threats it receives from piracy and other means of entertainment.
This is why we release films in more theatres today and hope to cash in the most, the first week,” he explains, adding that four weeks in theatres generally implies that the film has been profitable.
Despite this, Sivaji The Boss holds the record for running a 100 days in the highest number of theatres in the state (105), but that is attributed mostly to the Superstar’s charisma and was not a parameter to judge the movie’s success.
Films being released from then seem to have followed this pattern of making bucks early on by releasing it in more theatres before the reviews of a film are out. Dasavathaaram, in fact, had 48 shows in the opening weekend in the same multiplex. “Movies that have made a quick buck by getting released in many theatres this way include Sivaji, Dasavathaaram, Subramaniapuram, Paruthiveeran, Saroja and most recently, Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu,” explains another film distributor, on conditions of anonymity.
While people in the film business have succumbed to the fact that a 100 day run is not a monetary necessity for a film’s success, film stars still revel in the glory of a 100 days. An actor or his extended family ever so often procures the distribution rights of his film for Chennai city, and it is seen as a prestigious issue to have the film run a 100 days. Such films, including those of leading actors, run one show (the noon show most often) a day and hold 100 day celebrations.
These are viewed often with suspicion and not as a mark of a movie’s success. “People know even after the first show is over if a movie is a hit or not. Even the movies of leading actors don’t always command houseful shows for the opening weekend.
So, the audience can’t be fooled,” adds a producer, on conditions of anonymity.
A true successful hundred days are a rare thing to come by in Kollywood today. It doesn’t come often and the film business doesn’t need it. Only stars and stardom do. So the next time a film poster proudly declares that it has run successfully for a 25 days, it’s not a joke. It is an achievement.
Chandramukhi and Rajini get the crowning glory
THE Rajini- Jothika starrer beat all existing records in the Tamil film industry, by running for an unparalleled 126 weeks in a theatre in Chennai. Previously, the record for the highest number of days that a film ran belonged to 1946 film Haridas, which ran in one theatre in the city (Broadway Theatre) for 110 weeks.
Following Baba’s dismal show in the box office, Chandramukhi was what many industry pundits considered the make or break film for the Superstar.
But Rajinikanth returned to form with style with Chandramukhi, which was a blockbuster. Rajinikanth’s track record in terms of his movie run in a fascinating one, with four 200-day films from the 1990s: Mannan, Baatcha, Arunachalam and Padayappa, one 175-day film, Annamalai and five 100-day flicks in the same period: Muthu, Veera, Valli, Uzhaipaali and Sivaji. Not for nothing is the Style Czar known as the Superstar.
Paruthiveeran: 388 days
AMEER’S Paruthiveeran will be remembered in the annuls of history as a path-breaking film in terms of its storyline, and its equally laudable commercial and critical success. The Madurai-based film puts Karthi along the league of Sivaji Ganesan for having his first film run over 200 days. The film, with a largely unknown cast, even won itself a special mention at the Berlin Film Festival, besides fetching its heroine Priyamani the National Award for the Best Actress.