CHENNAI: In the recent past, no hero has dared to take on a Rajinikanth film. This time too, no hero is. But dinosaurs are. Universal Pictures’ Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has somehow managed to cross paths with Rajini and Pa Ranjith’s eagerly awaited Kaala which is releasing on Thursday. Kaala was originally scheduled to hit screens on April 27, but the release was moved because of the Kollywood strike. Conversely, the latest instalment of the Jurassic World franchise was meant to release June 22, but is also opening on Thursday. Both films are being released in multiple languages.
The buzz around Kaala has been rather muted, with the producers choosing to keep promotions low-key. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, on the other hand, is riding on the rich legacy of its franchise. The last sequel, Jurassic World (2015), ranked among the top five all-time Hollywood hits in India. Kaala’s advanced bookings have not been as usually expected for a Rajini film, with tickets available for opening day in Chennai theatres even on Wednesday evening.
In terms of screen count, Kaala has bagged around 2,300 screens in India while Fallen Kingdom will play in about 2,000 screens. In Tamil Nadu, though, Fallen Kingdom is getting a release only in 150-200 screens in comparison to Kaala, which will be released at over 500 screens. While the occupancy in advance bookings was about 90 percent for Kaala, it was just over 45 percent for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Still, could the latter pose a significant threat to Rajini’s film? Not really, although theatre owners may well be looking at Fallen Kingdom as a backup, if Kaala fails to get good word-of-mouth buzz.
“If Kaala had been released on April 27 (the day Avengers: Infinity War was released), the revenue of both those films would have been really affected,” says Rakesh, owner of Vetri Theatres, adding that Jurassic World’s release alongside Kaala could actually be a blessing in disguise for theatre owners. “We can’t be screening the same film in all our screens, especially after the opening weekend. And in the unfortunate case of Kaala not managing to get a positive word of mouth, a big film like Jurassic World will serve as a good back-up,” he said.
Nikhilesh Surya, owner of Rohini Cinemas, says Jurassic World is no match for Kaala, at least in Tamil Nadu. He feels the dinosaur film, at least in its dubbed versions, would have fared better if it had released a week earlier or later. “The bookings for Jurassic World are only 30 to 40 per cent of what we expected,” he said.