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Formula films with superstars fizzle out in South

By Lata Jha
Some multilingual spectacles such as RRR and KGF: Chapter 2 have set cash registers ringing

Trade experts said the underwhelming numbers of films featuring Chiranjeevi and Ram Charan’s Acharya, Prabhas’ Radhe Shyam, and Vijay’s Beast may set the stage for driving changes in an industry known for fan culture where old formulas may not be working, the gap between theatrical and digital release may be too narrow and ticket prices too high.

“Chiranjeevi is a huge star and Ram Charan is just coming off RRR but the response to Acharya shows a big name can only guarantee an opening and then the content has to speak for itself," said a film trade expert, declining to be named.

Trade website Andhra Box Office that termed Acharya a complete disaster said the film had earned a measly 43 crore worldwide in its opening weekend, and is looking at advancing its OTT premiere to be able to command a higher price and make up for theatrical losses.

Independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai said all superstars are now under the scanner, with family audiences barely visiting cinemas after the covid-19 pandemic and younger audiences more keen to take the risk. “While films with big superstars would earlier sustain for the opening weekend, they are now crashing by Friday evening, which is the day of release itself, if the word-of-mouth is not positive," Pillai said. However, he pointed out that smaller, tightly budgeted films with the right buzz and contemporary feel can draw viewers in home states. For example, Vijay Sethupathi, Nayanthara, and Samantha Ruth Prabhu-starrer Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhal released last week has easily made profits, with showcasing limited to Tamil Nadu.

In a blog on challenges for Indian film business in the aftermath of the pandemic, trade website Box Office India said there is a certain kind of correction going on at the box office with regular, unexciting films finding it even harder to get audiences to cinemas. “This is probably because these kinds of films were coming straight to the viewer at home for the past two years, who is now prepared to wait for a few weeks like he or she had been doing through the pandemic, to watch it (at home without going to the theatre)," the blog said.

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