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TamilNadu Producers seek final say on release of films

After ending a long-winded strike that wiped away several hundred crores in revenue for the film industry during the summer of 2018, the Tamil Film Producers Council had put forward a number of proposals in an attempt to reform the film industry — they identified computerised ticketing, additional entertainment taxes to GST and reducing the high rates charged by digital distribution companies.

However, many were pushing for one urgent reform: streamlining movie releases. In the last few years, a massive increase in the number of films releasing every year had resulted in clutter at the box office.

To solve this problem, a Release Regulation Committee was put in place to streamline and regulate movie releases. This too has been criticised by many. In the last few weeks, several producers, who had a release, said that this “regulation” was not working and that the decision should be handed back to individual producers.

On July 6, sources said that the release committee had reportedly informed other producers that three movies were ready for release — Mr. Chandramouliand two others. However, only Gautham Karthik’s Mr. Chandramouli finally released that week, pushing further the release of other films, including Tamil Padam 2. Sashikanth, producer of Tamil Padam 2, while agreeing that such a committee was needed, underlined that it should be restricted to playing an ‘advisory’ role.

“The most critical reason behind why it cannot be a body with powers to regulate is because it should be the producer who should decide when a film should release and in how many screens. The final decision maker should be the producer and not a committee. Otherwise, the whole point of this is a failure,” said Mr. Sashikanth.

Pointing out that many of the films whose release dates were confirmed finally didn’t make it to the screens, he said, “When a committee cannot guarantee that a film will release, it is only fair that they cannot ask other movies not to release on a particular date.”

Citing how Bollywood self-regulates its movie releases, Mr. Sashikanth said, “A production house producing a Salman Khan film might say that the movie will release on Id but they don’t have the power to stop another film from releasing on the same day. It is entirely up to that producer.”

Another producer, who didn’t want to be named, said the norms based on which the dates were given were not set in stone. “First, we were told that the movies that have been censored will be given a date. Now, that has not been adhered to. Even movies under production have been given ‘dates’. It is very haphazard,” said the producer.

Well-known distributor Tiruppur Subramaniam reiterated similar sentiments that the producers should be allowed to decide the release dates based on market demand.

Big films

“The fact that Kaala was pushed to June and was released during the school season has affected the film’s performance. A big film should be released for festivals. It is not possible to regulate releases in a reasonable manner,” he said.

Reacting to the criticism, S.R. Prabhu, treasurer, Tamil Film Producers Council, said the team would look into these issues and solve them. “The Release Regulation Committee is working well and is doing a good job. We will continue to be a regulating body,” he said.

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