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Vishwapooram delay could cost millions

Analysts say the controversy surrounding the film’s delay could mean a huge loss

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The delay in the screening of Kamal Haasan’s Rs950 million film “Vishwaroopam” in the wake of a ban after some groups tagged it as anti-Muslim is likely to result in an estimated loss of Rs300 million, say industry experts.

“A film like ‘Vishwaroopam’, which was promoted at a huge scale, will perhaps have to bear a loss of around Rs200-Rs300 million. But it also depends on the fate of the film. If the film again gets delayed, then the loss might even cross more than Rs300 million,” said Mumbai-based distributor Rajesh Thadani of Multi Media Combines.

After the ban on the international espionage drama, directed and produced by Kamal, in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala, distributors and theatre owners are worried about recovering the cost.

Karnataka distributor Gangaraju said that when a star’s film gets banned, the losses are heavy.

“If a single-screen theatre shells out about Rs500,000-Rs1 million for a film involving a big star, then only good opening can help break even in two weeks’ time,” he added.

A theatre owner said: “By January 22 we started bookings for ‘Vishwaroopam’ and removed all other films that were playing. But the ban has come as a shocker and we had to fill the screens again with old films such as ‘Alex Pandian’ and ‘Samar’.”

The Tamil and Telugu versions of “Vishwaroopam”, which deals with the adversities of war, were scheduled to release Jan 25, but couldn’t come out on the schedule time as a ban was imposed by the Tamil Nadu government following protests from Muslim groups.

A day later, the Madras high court restricted the film’s release till January 28.

Last Friday, some theatres in Andhra Pradesh and Kerala screened the film, but had to stop the run after religious leaders approached Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy and urged a ban.

Prakash Reddy, a distributor, said: “A Kamal Haasan film is bound to have a good opening but sadly, that was not in the case of ‘Vishwaroopam’ as the shows were disrupted.”

Initially, the film had a peaceful release in the overseas market, where distribution price is reportedly Rs15 million.

“’Vishwaroopam’ collected Rs570 million in Britain in the first three days,” tweeted trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

But now the trouble has travelled abroad with a ban on the film’s screening in Malaysia.

Confirming the same, A. Ramalingam, distributor of the film in Malaysia, said: “The film ran to packed houses on the first day but following a request from the ministry, we had to stop screening on Saturday.”

The film is still under review in the UAE with the National Media Council.