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Among the many unwritten rules that are a product of the unique reality of Tamil filmgoers is the timing of film releases. Big budgets jostle and edge out smaller banners to arrange multi-theater release during festivals. The festive mood brings along with it an urge to entertain oneself and family. Filmgoers are more inclined to spend money on tickets as well as theater popcorn and soft drinks.
If no festival occurs that month, then filmmakers try and get their film releases in the first two weeks, not the latter two weeks. Only exceptional movies get the cash registers in the box office ringing even when they are released in the second half of the month. A plausible reason is that in the first half of the month filmgoers have the disposable income to spend on movies and entertain themselves.
Films are not an exception though. Many businesses revolve around the salary date. FMCG, for instance, would fit that mold. Shops typically close over the third and fourth weekends since sales are down at that time. A majority of our filmgoers are working class or salaried middle class. Their expenses are higher around the first of the month. The film industry has a firm belief that movies that are released in the second half of the month don’t do great business.
In the times of MGR and Sivaji, most movies that released third or fourth Friday bit the dust. But some movies that released towards the end of fourth week survived into the next month. And they saw success.
If no festival occurs that month, then filmmakers try and get their film releases in the first two weeks, not the latter two weeks.
In those days, though there were far more cinema theatres, only some 50 to 100 prints would be made available on release. These would show in big cities. Only later would more prints be made for smaller towns, suburbs and villages through touring talkies.
Since the 2000s, the trend of releasing in as many theaters as possible started taking root. This sought to use the film fan’s desire to see the movie on release date or soon after. Average films backed by resources and through marketing sought to make use of the concept of mass release so that they could recoup their investments in the first few days. Instead of 100 prints running in a few theaters for many days, several hundred prints run all across Tamil Nadu for a few days. This only bolstered the first half-of-the-month idea.
Some of Kamal Haasan films released in the second half are Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu on June 25, 2009, Unnaipol Oruvan on Sept 18, 2009, Manmadhan Ambu on December 23, 2010, and Viswaroopam on Jan 25, 2013 everywhere including Kerala but on Feb 7 in TN due to political troubles. Out of these, Vettaiyadu Vilaiyadu was a commercial success.
For Rajinikanth, Baba was released on August 15, 2002, Kochaidayaan on May 23, 2014, Kabali on July 22, and 2.0 on November 29, 2018. Out of these Kabali was a phenomenal success though released on the 22nd of the month.
In 2000, Ajith Kumar’s Mugavari was released on Feb 19 and Unnai Kodu Ennai Tharuven was released on May 19. Next year Poovellam Un Vasam was released on Aug 17. In 2007, Kirideem was released on July 20, Mangatha on Aug 31, while Arambam was released on Oct 31 in 2013 and Vivegam on August 24, 2017. Mangatha was released the day before Vinayagar Chathurthi and Vivegam was released the same week as Deepavali.
Valimai was released on Feb 24 this year. Though declared a commercial success, it received mixed reviews and reception from fans.
Besides the above films, almost all the films of the three stars were released in the first days of months. Some were Deepavali, Pongal and New Year releases.
Among Vijay films that came out between 2000 and 2010, Kushi was released on May 19, 2000, Piriyamanavale that October 26, Youth on July 19, 2002, Thirumalai on October 24, 2003, Udaya on March 24, 2004, Gilli on April 17, 2004, Madurai on August 29, 2004, Sukran on Feb 18, 2005, Vettaikkaran on Dec 18, 2009, and Sura on April 30, 2010.
The schedule of the movie’s release tells many things. If a big star release happens second half of the month, then that star or at least that movie is in some trouble. It is also an indication of the clout the producers enjoy
If we leave out festival releases, the only surprises were Kushi and Gilli that were successful. Both were made by Surya Movies of A M Rathinam.
Most of the films released after 2010 were either festival day releases or first two week releases.
The films of Vikram, Surya, Sivakarthikeyan, Dhanush, Jayam Ravi and Vijay Sethupathi too follow this trend, largely. Valimai, Tiruchittrambalam and Rocketry were 16-26 releases but successful. Nenjukku Needhi and Diary drew some attention.
The schedule of the movie’s release tells many things. If a big star release happens second half of the month, then that star or at least that movie is in some trouble. It is also an indication of the clout the producers enjoy.
For instance, on the 23rd of this month, six films, Aadhaar, Buffon, Trigger, Drama, Kuzhali and Rendagam were released. Aadhaar and Trigger have received positive responses. These are small budget films.
On Sept 29, Selvaraghavan’s Naaney Varuven and the next day Ponniyin Selvan will be released. These are big budget films. Some salaries these days start reaching bank accounts on the last two days of the month. The two films are ready for that.
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