Autograph directed and produced by Cheran is the only genuine hit in the last six months of 2004. Though there has been lot of celebrations and films recording hundred days the trade circles say that only Autograph has been a money-spinner. The distributors and theatre owners who are real sources for film business details pooh pooh the claim of many a producer of having given 100 days films. Dragging a film to reach 100 days in some mini theatre and that too in noon show to put up a 100 day poster is mainly to keep the hero's image up in public.
42 Tamil films and 30 dubbed films were released in the last six months. Out of these Autograph and Ghilli are termed a hit. Virumaandi, Aayutha Ezhithu, Engal Anna, Peralagan, Eeithree and Arul are those, which claim to be hits. Silambarasan's Kuthu is racing towards a 100-day mark. The trade circles point out that apart from Autograph the other films are just about recovered their production costs and investment for distributors. Silambarasan's Kuthu has given the producer a loss of Rs 1 crore and in Chennai the film is being dragged towards a 100 day mark because it's distributed by the hero's father TR. Manirathinam's Ayuthu ezhuthu sold for a high price was a loss for distributors and so was the case of Virumaandi. The reason being that the film over hyped in the media was bought for a very high price. The public reaction was lukewarm. Both these film producers will have to compensate the distributors by reducing their price in the next project or give back the losses.
The reason for the films, which safely run for 50 days and make money not matching up the production cost, is the astronomical pay packets of the Stars. All the youngsters charge Rs 3 crores with the exception of Madhavan and Silambarasan who charge Rs 1 crore. Among the elders the highest paid is Kamalhassan who is paid Rs 6 crores and Vijaykant gets Rs 4 crores. The production costs too have mounted with increase in wages for technicians and equipment. Cinematographers and directors who have given hit films are in the Rs 50 lakh plus bracket. For a star-studded film the producer has to cough up Rs 5 crore by way of payment to artistes and technicians and spent another Rs 3 crores on production. Ghilli, which is a record collection in 100 centres upto 50 days, is sliding now and limping towards 100 days. The 50 days collection has only saved the producer from losing his investment because the total cost of film (first copy) was Rs 14 crore. If this film has been completed at the normal cost of Rs 8 crores the producer would have been richer b a few crore. Same is the case with Peralagan, which ran huge production bills.
The reason for Autograph's success is that it was finished at the cost of Rs 2.5 crores. With no stars and the director himself the hero the money was spent only for production costs. The film had no buyers and it was released by the producer himself. The success ratio became high because of the low production costs. But again low production costs are not a guarantee to success. Kanavu maiyapada vendum, vanam vasapadum, Thendral, Kamaraj were all low cost movies which bombed. A right mix of story line and curbing production costs can only save the producers. If the present success ratio continues Tamil filmdom is in for a bad spell.