In a major setback to Malayalam film industry and fans, the ongoing fight between the association of theatre owners and the combined team of producers and distributors has stalled the releases of big-ticket films that were scheduled to release on Christmas weekend.
Malayalam Film Producers Council and Distributors Association and the Kerala Film Exhibitors Federation (KFEF) have been engaged in a row over splitting revenue. A meeting was recently chaired by a state minister but failed to solve the ongoing strike by the various film organisations, which has brought the Malayalam film industry to a standstill. Since December 16, both production and release of Malayalam films have been stopped.
The meeting had all the parties present and was mediated by culture affairs and cinema minister AK Balan. According to reports, theatre owners stuck to their demand of 50-50 revenue share of box office collections, while producers and distributors remained opposed to it. The meeting ended in a logjam. The minister, meanwhile, also suggested that a judicial commission should be set up to look into the conflict, which was reportedly agreed by everyone involved.
The single screen owners in Kerala have been demanding parity with multiplex screens, which get to keep 50 percent of the box office collection. The owners of single screens have to pay about 60 percent of the total net revenue to distributors and producers during the first week of a new film. The standoff has spread across the film industry with various film organisations also going on strike.
The producers and distributors decided not to release any new films, should the theatre owners refuse to budge on their demand, said reports. The strike has forced the makers to postpone four highly-anticipated films this year in Malayalam, including Mohanlal’s Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol, Dulquer Salman’s Jomonte Suvisheshangal, Prithviraj’s Ezra and Jayasurya’s Fukri.
Besides stopping the release of new films temporarily, the theatre owners and distributors have also decided to pull out previously released Malayalam films from the theatres. The decision will affect the screening of Pulimurugan and Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan, which have been doing well at the Kerala box office, in as many as 200 theatres in the state, said reports.
Christmas is too big a festival in Kerala for producers to skip their releases. The films, which released on Christmas, have the history of becoming blockbusters. Last year, Charlie, Adi Kapyare Kootamani and Two Countries released on Christmas holiday and went on to become a hit at the box office.
However, films of other languages including Bollywood’s much-awaited film Aamir Khan’s Dangal will be released in Kerala without any hiccup. The postponed Malayalam film may hit the screens in the last week of the month or in January. In any case, the films will have to bear the brunt of not opening in theatres in the holiday season in terms of box office collections.