A scene from the movie Premalu.

A scene from the movie Premalu.

The Malayalam film industry is back with a bang after a string of flops in 2023.

Five films – Abraham Ozler, Anweshippin Kandethum, Premalu, Bramayugam and Manjummel  Boys – released since January have worked wonders at the box office. As per estimates by the Film Exhibitors’ United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK), the five films have earned a combined record gross collection in Kerala of over ₹200 crore as on March 1.

Despite the annual exam season and the soaring temperatures, audiences continue to flock to the cinemas to watch Premalu, Bramayugam and Manjummel Boys.

Bonanza

The month of February witnessed a bonanza at the box office following four back-to-back hits –Anweshippin Kandethum, Premalu,Bramayugam and Manjummel Boys.

Abraham Ozler released in January will have earned a Kerala gross of around ₹35 crore followed by Anweshippin Kandethum (around ₹25 to ₹30 crore); Premalu, which is expected to reach the ₹100 crore mark, has earned around ₹70 crore as on March 1. Bramayugam has netted a Kerala gross of ₹35 to ₹40 crore and is going strong. Manjummel Boys, which completed the first week of its release on March 1, has already earned over ₹30 crore and is marching towards a record gross collection,” said Suresh Shenoy, exhibitor and member of the executive committee of FEUOK.

“The audience response has been tremendous and such a buoyant trend was not visible for some time,” he said.

With an interesting line-up of movies, including Aadujeevitham, Aavesham, and Varshangalku Sesham to name a few, getting ready for a theatrical release, the producers seem elated by the grand box office opening at the start of 2024.

‘Content remains king’

“Content remains the king going by the huge audience response to these hit movies. A combination of factors, which include the pre-release hype, production banner, interesting cast, and storyline also impact the box office fate of a movie,” said B. Rakesh, secretary of the Kerala Film Producers’ Association. “The success of these movies has also shown that producers need to invest in movies having unique content and story-telling style,” he said.

Though the industry is excited about a possible turnaround in fortunes, the increasing production cost and dwindling returns from the sale of rights, including OTT remain a concern.

Theatrical performance

“The digital platforms are looking at the theatrical performance of movies before fixing the price on a movie. Gone are the days when they had lapped up films for attractive rates,” said G. Suresh Kumar, president of the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce.

“There is also no respite from the soaring production cost of a movie, especially the salary for actors and technicians that accounted for nearly 65% of the total budget,” he said. 



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