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Tollywood shuts down production citing poor patronage at theatres

Film shootings in Tollywood have come to a grinding halt from today as the producers call for an indefinite ‘bandh’ following poor footfalls in the theatres across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

The bandh would hit the prospects of about 50 films that are in various stages of production. It will also impact the livelihoods of about 30,000 people, including 20,000 technicians who are directly depended on the industry.

The move, however, has received strong opposition from the Telangana Film Chamber of Commerce. “The decision by the big producers is unilateral and uncalled for. It will cast a shadow on about 50 films that are under production and impact the livelihood of thousands of workers,” P Ramakrishna Goud, the Chairman of the Chambers, said.

He alleged that the big producers were the reason for the present crisis. “They wanted the ticket prices to go up and when the audiences resist visiting theatres due to high costs, they are stopping the shootings,” he said.

Huge budgets
The budget of films have gone up phenomenally with the remuneration for top heroes and others shooting up. Sources in the industry pegged the payment for the top heroes (Pawan Kalyan, Mahesh Babu, Prabhas, Jr NTR, Allu Arjun and Ram Charan) in the range of ₹40-80 crore. Some of the star directors such as S S Ramamouli and Trivikram reportedly charge as much.

To make up for the huge expenditure, the producers are pitching for a sharp increase in the ticket prices, resulting in poor footfalls in the theatres.

“The production cost has skyrocketed in the last few years. I had spent ₹80,000 a day (which includes artistes remuneration, permissions and fee for technicians) for my first film in 2013, and now it is costing ₹5 lakh a day for the picture ‘Baby’ that I’m currently working on,” he said.

“Remunerations have gone up across the board. It will be very difficult for small producers to make film at these budgets. The industry needs to sort this out once for all,” he pointed out.

A good number of films released in the last two months hardly had a run of two days, leaving the producers, distributors and exhibitors with huge losses

What the producers want
Besides calling for a significant reduction in remunerations, the producers want the industry to delay the releases on OTT platforms that have become a hot favourite of the audience.

With the cost of watching films (travel, ticket and snack costs) witnessing a sharp increase, the audience are shifting their loaylties to OTT platforms and wouldn’t mind waiting for a few weeks to watch their favourite flicks.

The big producers want the films to be released late on OTT platforms to encourage the audience to come back to the theatres.

Senior producer Thammareddy Bharadwaja, however, feels that it is time the industry revamps its content offering strategy. “I agree that the theatres have come to homes (OTTs). But what you can do is to make films giving additional experience and make them come back to the theatres,” he said.

Producer Sai Rajesh, whose film ‘Colour Photo’ has recently won the National Award as the Best Telugu Film, felt that the halt to film shootings is an important step. “It is time we discuss and sort this issue out,” he said. The Hindu BusinessLine

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