Two much-awaited south Indian films are heading towards a dramatic face off in the theatres, with Tamil superstar Vijay’s Beast and Kannada star Yash’s KGF: Chapter 2 slated to hit the big screens on April 13 and 14 respectively. Following the massive success of KGF: Chapter 1 (2018), a Kannada blockbuster that went on to garner pan-Indian appeal, fans have been eagerly anticipating the return of Yash and director Prashanth Neel with the film’s sequel, which will have a festival release on the occasion of Ugadi. Meanwhile, actor Vijay – whose last outing Master (2021) had a humongous run at the box office – will be soon seen on the big screen again with Beast, directed by Nelson Dilipkumar. Starring actor Pooja Hegde opposite Vijay, the film is scheduled to be released on April 13, on the occasion of Tamil New Year.
While the fans of both Vijay and Yash are eager to watch their respective films on the big screens, concerns have risen about the possibility of a big box office clash. Clearing the air on the same during the trailer launch of KGF 2 on Sunday, March 27, Yash said he was optimistic that both the films would have a good reach among the audiences. "This is not KGF 2 vs Beast. This is not an election for one to lose and the other to emerge as a winner. Both films can coexist. The audiences can see both films. They do not have to choose just one," he said at the event. In further show of camaraderie, Beast director Nelson Dilipkumar on Tuesday, March 29, heaped praises on the trailer of KGF 2. In response, Prashanth Neel thanked Nelson and conveyed his wishes.
Nonetheless, many from the industry feel that the makers might be downplaying the repercussions of the clash. The makers of both films are saying they are finding it inconvenient and difficult to reschedule the releases because they have been planning a festival release for months, Tamil Nadu Theatre and Multiplex Owners' Association president Tirupur M Subramaniam told TNM. “We are positive that the audiences will come to theatres to watch both the films. But usually, big films like these do not have to share screens with each other. If it was not for the clash, they would be playing on all screens,” he said.
“We have not received the official numbers of screens allotted to each film in Tamil Nadu yet. But out of the 1,200 screens, 800 to 850 will be going to Beast and the rest to KGF 2 here. Beast is likely to perform well in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, while KGF 2 is expected to have a good run in Karnataka and the Telugu states,” Subramaniam said.
The frequent postponement of film releases over the past two years due to the pandemic and the possibility of another COVID-induced lockdown are the factors that production houses are taking into account before they pin down the release dates. These were perhaps the reasons that influenced the makers of KGF 2 and Beast as well.
However, Ganesh, the owner of Chennai’s Kamala theatre, is of the opinion that the release of one of these films could have been pushed by a week or two. “When director SS Rajamouli came out with RRR, he spoke to his competitors about postponing the release of their films. As the director of a film bigger than the rest in terms of the scale, Rajamouli could have put up a fight instead. But he chose to resolve the clash. Similarly, if the release date of one of these films was postponed by a week or two, it would have been a win for both,” he said.
At Kamala theatre, the bigger screen is going to be dedicated for the premiere of Beast, while the smaller one might show KGF 2. “If Sun Pictures approaches us, we might end up buying all the shows for Beast instead of KGF 2, considering Vijay is more popular in Tamil Nadu. I believe the same would apply for Beast in Karnataka as well. There, theatre owners are likely to prefer KGF 2 over Beast,” Ganesh said, adding that he was not certain why the makers of Beast chose to turn it into a pan-Indian project and decided to release the film in five languages at the eleventh hour.
At the same time, there have also been recent examples of production houses finding amicable ways of dealing with a box office clash, Ganesh pointed out. “When Rajinikanth’s Annaatthe and Vishal-Arya starrer Enemy released on the same day (November 4) on the occasion of Deepavali last year, Vishal had spoken to actor-politician Udhayanidhi Stalin about the same. When Sun Pictures approached Kamala theatre, we were willing to play Annaatthe in both the screens, but they insisted that we dedicate one for Enemy,” he said.
Parallels are also being drawn between the recent box office clash of Allu Arjun’s action entertainer Pushpa, which released on December 17 last year, with Ranveer Singh’s sports drama 83, which released on December 24. Industry tracker and film writer Sreedhar Pillai opined that he was unsure if the failure of 83 could be attributed to its face-off with Pushpa. “83 released a week after Pushpa. Though 83 had received better critical reception, Pushpa was better liked by the audience,” he said.
Sreedhar also noted that the Indian film industry has witnessed several box office clashes in the past, ranging from classics like Sholay and Jai Santoshi Maa in 1975 and period films like Gadar: Ek Prem Katha and Lagaan in 2001, to more recent examples like Rajinikanth’s Petta and Ajith’s Viswasam in 2019 and Kiccha Sudeep’s Kotigobba 3 and Duniya Vjay’s Salaga in 2021.
Shahid Kapoor’s sports drama Jersey, a Hindi remake of the 2019 Telugu film by the same name, is also headed for release on April 14. However, it is unlikely to cause a dent in the business of Prashanth Neel and Nelson’s films. One has to wait for the release of Beast and KGF 2 to ascertain if both the films will open to positive responses and collect massive box office revenues as anticipated.
Watch the first single from Vijay and Pooja Hegde's Beast here:
Watch the trailer of KGF 2 here: