Hyderabad: Film director S.S. Rajamouli's long-awaited ‘RRR’ hit the screens on Friday to packed houses, the biggest release after two years of the Covid-19 pandemic. The initial turnout seemed to quell fears on the direction the film industry would take in the post-pandemic era.
The film has secured special permission from the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh governments to hike ticket prices. In the black market, reports said, tickets went for Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 a piece for the 7 am show — permission has been given for five shows a day — at main theatres at RTC crossroads.
Pratusha, Srivalli, Deepu (names changed), a group of friends, took a day off from office for a college friends' reunion and watched 'RRR' at Prasad I-Max. To their surprise, they were able to meet some crew members of the movie.
At single-screen theatres, the scenes were riotous with fans garlanding cutouts of their favourite actors, showering flower petals and firing crackers.
V.L. Sridhar, of VLS Sridavi Theatre, Chilkalguda, said, all shows had been booked solid till Monday. The higher ticket prices had made producers, exhibitor and distributors.
Yellina Jitendra Rambabu, a cinema analyst, said, “The opening collections and the fanfare as a whole reassure that the industry has a positive future.”
Producer Vishnu Induri, who has bankrolled films like N.T. Rama Rao’s biopic, ‘Jayalalithaa’, ‘83’, said the film industry was badly hit by the pandemic and films like ‘RRR’ would bring back hope and prompt filmmakers to continue to think big.
"It gives impetus for filmmakers' to make more pan-India films, narrate patriotic stories and initiate multi-starrers. It’s a fantastic and healthy trend," said Vishnu.
The performance of low-budget films like ‘The Kashmir Files’, which has raked in more than Rs 200 crore so far despite low expectations, is very difficult to comprehend, he said.
For producer-distributor Abhishek Nama, things boiled down to content. He said films like ‘RRR’ will attract the audience to theatres for the cinematic experience but content was important.
“What's heartening is that people are coming to cinema theatres post the pandemic. That's the need of the hour," elucidates Abhishek
While producers have recovered the film’s budget thanks to distribution, satellite and digital sales touching Rs 600 crore, it will be a challenge for distributors and exhibitors to earn the money back from ticket sales.
Director Mahi, who made ‘Yatra’ the biopic on YS Raja Sekhar Reddy, said that the trade business post the Covid era will be multi-layered. Film-makers may make films that are dedicated to either theatrical releases or OTTs.
Interestingly, producer Suresh Babu said it was too early to predict the pattern of audiences flocking theatres. He felt there was some unhappiness with the higher ticket prices.
“It’s premature to comment,” Suresh Babu told Deccan Chronicle. “Films like RRR are very rare, and hence people would love to watch it in theatres. But ‘The Kashmir Files’ has been the surprise package for me; it has caught the attention of the nation. Still, we need to wait and watch the theatrical scenario."...