Kamal Haasan's magnum opus, 'Vishwaroopam' has been mounted on a reported budget of Rs 95 crore approximately according to the actor-director. This makes it one of the costliest Tamil films ever, second only to Rajinikanth's 2010 blockbuster 'Enthiran' with reported budget of a whopping Rs 132 crore. With the industry adopting digital methods for production, over 150 films are now produced on an average by the Tamil film industry every year out of which only 10 per cent films manage to recover costs.
South Indian movies are big money business. The industry is pegged at Rs 2000 crore with Tamil and Telugu films contributing 45 per cent each to the revenue. According to a study by Ernst & Young, 65 per cent of the revenue for Tamil films comes from the domestic theatrical market, 20 per cent revenue comes in from the cable and satellite television rights of the film, 10 per cent revenue is contributed by overseas theatrical rights and 5 per cent from dubbing and remake rights.
The recent boom in regional entertainment channels has led to a lot of churn in states like Tamil Nadu. According to reports, Rajinikanth-starrer 'Sivaji' was sold for a record Rs 5 crore to Sun TV in 2007 but last year Rajini's unreleased 'Kochadaiyaan' was reportedly sold to the highest bidder Jaya TV for Rs 5.5 crore. And in a coup of sorts Vijay TV has bought the rights of AR Murugadoss's 'Thuppakki' and Mani Ratnam's 'Kadal' for an unprecedented Rs 22 crore in 2013.
According to some reports, 'Vishwaroopam' satellite rights were not sold to Jaya TV as they quoted a lower figure in comparison to what Vijay TV was offering. However, in a press conference held in Chennai Chief Minister J Jayalalitha brushed aside these alleged rumours. "On allegation that I wanted the film to be sold to Jaya TV at lower price and that's why I imposed ban is baseless. We will issue legal defamatory charges against those who made such allegations," she said.
With 2012 proving to be a bad year for the business of Tamil films with most big budget films biting the dust, it's crucial that Kamal Haasan's magnum opus is released to change the fate of an industry languishing in losses. But the business of movies has given way to rhetoric around content for now.