When the seriously cinema minded were enjoying world classics at the venues of the International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK), trade unions of Mollywood were meeting in Kochi. The outcome was a shocker for the movie goers — no new film will be released during Christmas. Four films with superstars — Ezra, Jomonte Suviseshangal, Fukri and Muthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol — will stay in the cans till the impasse ends.
According to G. Sureshkumar, president of Kerala Producer’s Association, pushing the industry to this situation was the unrealistic demand of Kerala film exhibitor’s federation for a 50 per cent revenue share. “This means the producer will get just half the revenue. We cannot agree that as it does not benefit the producer, who funds the film facing many risks. That is why the association members unanimously decided to hold the release,” says Suresh Kumar.
He points out that exhibitors have other ways of earning revenue apart from the sale of movie tickets. “They get income in the form of canteen rent, parking fee, advertisement films and erection of hoardings inside their compound. In fact, the producer has to pay to erect the flex of his film in front of the theatre. Their main expense is paying electricity bill, which is insignificant compared to the production of a film. They also have to pay the salaries for their employees.”
He goes on to ask, “Then why are they asking for a big share? See, the total expense for building a theatre is maximum Rs 7 crore. Now what is the average expense of making a film? And how many films are completing more than 50 days and yielding profit? That means the majority of the producers who come up with films are not financially safe post release. In the meantime, they (exhibitors) have no loss. More than that they are getting more share, when a film becomes held over.”
Meanwhile Jibu Jacob, who directed Mohanlal’s Munthirivallikal Thalirkumbol, hopes that the issue will be resolved and he will be able to release his film as planned. “We were planning to release the film on December 22. I really hope it gets settled,” he says. Jibu compares his current situation to that of an expectant father outside the labour room. “My film is all set for release and my tension is running high. If the release gets delayed, I have to stay in this state till it reaches the screen.”
At a function held at Ernakulam, actor Prithviraj, whose Ezra was also slated as a Christmas release, commented, “2016 was a golden period for Malayalam cinema and 2017 looks to be more promising. Instead of creating roadblocks it would be healthier if everybody would co-operates for the betterment of cinema.” Cine-lovers are a disappointed lot. Jibin Babu, who hails from Kottarakara, says the situation was avoidable. “Christmas is a time when we go as a family to watch cinema. Besides, the cinemas charted for next week were really promising. But now what can we do? Those involved could have avoided this situation during Christmas,” he says.
Meanwhile, reports are coming in that a meeting will be held in Palakkad on December 20 in which cultural minister A.K. Balan will meet the office bearers of Kerala Film Producers Association and Kerala Film Exhibitors Federation to solve the ongoing issue. If everything goes well, Malayalam film-lovers will get a chance to witness new releases in December itself....