The release crisis in Malayalam cinema industry has finally come to a partial closure. At a crucial meeting held in Kochi on Saturday evening, Producers’ Association decided to release movies in theatres that come under the purview of Cine Exhibitors’ Association, the organisation of B Class theatre owners in the state, and A Class theatres that agree on the existing 60-40 revenue sharing policy. As a result of the Kochi meeting, actor Vineeth’s Kamboji will hit the screens on January 12.
Four big budget films which were scheduled to release on December 23, have been put on hold ever since the strike began. The films – Dulquer Salmaan’s Jomonte Suvisheshangal, Mohanlal’s Munthiri Vallikal Thalirkkumbol, director Siddique’s Fukri, and Prithviraj’s Ezra – have completed their censor process and are ready for theatrical release. As reported earlier, no Malayalam films were released in theatres in Kerala after December 16. The issues began after the Kerala Film Exhibitors’ Federation demanded a 50 percent revenue share as against the current revenue sharing ratio of 40 percent for exhibitors and 60 percent for producers.
In the subsequent weeks, the Christmas films – Jomonte Suvisheshangal, Ezra, Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol, Great Father, and Fukri – will be released. The exhibitors federation, led by Liberty Basheer, has been given an ultimatum till January 19 to come up with a positive solution to resolve the crisis, else the producer’s council has decided to cut off all business dealings with them.
Last Tuesday, Liberty Basheer had met chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan who asked the film unions to resolve the crisis as early as possible. On January 6, an unofficial meeting was held between Mollywood producers, distributors, and exhibitors, excluding Liberty Basheer. However, the meeting wasn’t fruitful.
At a meeting of film unions held in Palakkad on December 21, the Exhibitors’ Federation, had stood firm in their demand for 50 per cent share of ticket revenues. Although the minister asked the unions to solve the issue ahead of Christmas, one of the biggest seasons for the industry, the unions refused to yield.
Veteran directors like Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Kamal have reacted strongly against the attitude of Exhibitors’ Federation. Theatres that refuse to screen films should be shut down for good, said Adoor, as quoted by Mathrubhumi.
G Suresh Kumar, president of the Kerala Producers’ Association, told the Deccan Chronicle that the exhibitors’ demand was “unrealistic’”. He said, “This means the producer will get just half the revenue. We cannot agree [to] 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.”
Meanwhile, Liberty Basheer accused Suresh Kumar of conspiring to prolong the strike for the benefit of the Tamil film Bairavaa, in which Suresh’s daughter Keerthi is playing the female lead. In the present situation, the Tamil film will get 225 screens in the state, as against the mere 55 screens if the crisis is resolved.