The uncertainty over Christmas release of new Malayalam films continues as they won’t open in theatres this Friday too due to the ongoing strike over the profit-sharing policy in the film industry. The release of four highly-anticipated films, including a Mohanlal film, has been postponed indefinitely as the Film Exhibitors Federation and the associations of Producers and Distributors are failing to reach an agreement over the dispute even as Aamir Khan’s Dangal rules over the local box office.
Since December 16, the Malayalam film industry has come to a standstill with various film organisations also joining the strike. Both production and release of films have been put on hold, with neither the combined team of producers and distributors or the theatre owners ready to budge on their demand.
The Kerala Film Exhibitors Federation (KFEF) 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 last week’s meeting between the protesting parties mediated by culture affairs and cinema minister AK Balan also failed to break the stalemate. The theatre owners stuck to their demand of 50-50 revenue share of box office collections and Malayalam Film Producers Council and Distributors Association remained opposed to it. While the meeting ended in a logjam, the minister’s suggestion to appoint a judicial commission to look into the conflict has reportedly been agreed by everyone involved.
The crisis is deepening in the industry as from Friday theatres will stop screening two Malayalam blockbuster films — Pulimurugan and Kattappanayile Rithwik Roshan — which have been running to packed houses. This will further benefit the films of other languages, said reports.
Pulimurugan, which has made Rs 150 crore from worldwide ticket sales, has collected more than Rs 80 crore in 81 days since its theatrical release in Kerala alone. The industry has already incurred a loss of about Rs 5 crore due to stalling the release of new films. And if the situation continues, it will only slow down the growth of the industry, which of late has shown the potential of being a worthy competitor to other south Indian movies in the box office collections.
The strike has come as a windfall for films from other states, especially Dangal. The Aamir Khan-starrer, which released on about 100 screens across Kerala, has been raking in moolah with no major rival at the box office. Dangal has already collected more than Rs 1 crore at the Cochin multiplexes, thus it has become fastest film to make that much of money beating films like Kabali and Sultan.
Dangal’s new box office record in Kerala may not have been possible had Mohanlal’s Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol, Dulquer Salmaan’s Jomonte Suvisheshangal, Prithviraj’s Ezra and Jayasurya’s Fukri were released as scheduled.