A phenomenal rebirth: Malayalam cinema's performance in the first quarter of 2024 compared to 2023

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The year is just four months old and already Malayalam cinema has scripted a significant upturn. With movies like 'Premalu’, 'Bramayugam’, 'Manjummel Boys’, and 'Aadujeevitham’, theatres are thriving, not just in Kerala but in neighbouring states as well. These movies are not only successful in terms of box office revenue but also in quality and content. Other major releases in the first quarter of 2024, like 'Abraham Ozler’, 'Malaikottai Vaaliban’, and 'Anweshippin Kandethum', have also managed to attract a decent crowd to the theatre.

Films like 'Aattam’ and 'Family’, despite failing to get a massive opening like the other star-studded productions, were recognised for their content and craftsmanship. The industry's diverse offerings cater to a wide audience, benefiting both theatres and movie enthusiasts. Once again, the Malayalam industry is the talk of the town and holds its head high while Bollywood and other film industries struggle to breathe.

However, the situation was different in 2023. By the first quarter of the year, the downturn in the industry sucked the life out of most of the Malayalam movies; forcing theatres to look towards other language films to bring the crowd. Films like 'Alone', 'Christopher', 'Ayisha', and 'Thuramukham', despite boasting stellar casts, faltered at the box office. Disappointed fans of Malayalam cinema wondered about the fate of the industry that once produced rich content that won accolades around the world. The only standouts in the first half of 2023 were 'Romancham' and '2018’, while others like 'Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam’, 'Pachuvum Athbutha Vilakkum’, 'Pranayavilasam’, and 'Pookkaalam' managed decent runs.

With over 220 releases last year, only around 15 managed to break even. 2023 witnessed a record number of film releases in Malayalam cinema, with some weeks seeing up to 18 releases. According to reports from the Film Chamber, the overall loss to the film industry in 2023 amounted to Rs 700 crore. The majority of those who incurred losses were first-time producers. While Malayalam movies witnessed a downturn in business, big-ticket movies from Tamil made a huge impact in the Kerala market. Rajinikanth-starrer 'Jailer’, Vijay's movie 'Leo’, Raghava Lawrence's film 'Jigarthanda’, and Shahrukh Khan's 'Jawan’ and 'Pathaan' all did good business in the state.

Fast forward to 2024, earnings of Malayalam films have surpassed Rs 500 crore, thanks to success at home and away - 'Premalu' had an impressive show at the Telugu box office while 'Manjummel Boys' created waves across Tamil Nadu. Both these films have already crossed the 100 crore mark and 'Aadujeevitham' is poised to join them. Beyond just box office figures, these Malayalam movies were also praised for the quality of their content and technical aspects.

Movies like 'Varshangalkku Shesham', 'Aavesham', 'Nadikar', 'Jai Ganesh', and 'Malayalee from India' are gearing up for release during the Eid-Vishu week. The anticipations of the industry and theatre owners are high as the good show of their predecessors and the festival-vacation season is expected to benefit these releases. 'Varshangalkku Shesham', directed by Vineeth Sreenivasan, boasts an ensemble cast including Pranav Mohanlal, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Nivin Pauly, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Dhyan Sreenivasan, Basil Joseph, Aju Varghese, etc. 'Aavesham', starring Fahad Faasil, is directed by Jithu Madhavan, the man behind 'Romancham'. 'Malayalee from India', directed by Dijo Jose Antony and starring Nivin Pauly, is a comedy-drama that promises vintage Nivin Pauly.

In an interview given while promoting his movie, as an answer to a question about the camaraderie in the Malayalam industry, Prithviraj pointed out how the market confidence that 'Premalu', 'Bramayugam', or 'Manjummel Boys' have created would benefit the movies that followed them including his movie. According to him, it creates an anticipation for the next big Malayalam film. The success of these films has the potential to pave the way for the success of the next film. And let’s hope this holds for all good films from the industry as well.

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