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Dil Raju on F3, ticket rates, difficulties of theatre business, and more


Dil Raju is confident about 'F3', which releases in theatres on May 27. In this interview, he compares 'F3' with 'F2' and says that the former has a greater number of characters. He also adds that 'F3' will have the audience in splits for 90 minutes at least. Raju then touches upon the reality of the theatre business, why he is not in favour of raising ticket prices for 'F3', why Nizam theatre owners listen to him, and more.

When 'F2' became a big hit, Anil Ravipudi told me we should do 'F3'. I asked him to go ahead with story development. 'F3' is a non-stop entertainer. 'F2' showed the conflict between couples due to different reasons. The film conveyed the message that female voices should be respected in families. In 'F3', the primacy of money in our lives has been explored. It is the new 'bootham' joining 'Pancha boothalu'. All relationships are hinged on the monetary aspect. Money determines everything from morning to night. 'F3' beautifully weaves tales around this fact of life.

Anil believes in entertainment more than the story. When I am doing a film with Anil, I try to see the film from his perspective.

'F3' has a bigger cast than 'F2'. In the first half, Sunil is the only extra character compared to 'F2'. In the second half, you will see many new characters emerging. 'Jamba Lakadi Pamba' had so many characters. I would say that 'F3' is in a similar zone.

The original plan was to shoot the movie in 80 days. It took 105 days due to the pandemic.

I didn't watch a single rush until the first cut was ready. It had me in splits. For 150 minutes, you will keep laughing for 90 minutes. It's a complete fun ride. It's my guarantee.

I am a fan of Venkatesh garu. He is an actor's producer. He can't digest if the producer's money gets wasted. I think he owes this ethic to his producer-father, D Rama Naidu garu.

We are not seeking a ticket price hike in order to help the middle-class audience. During the pandemic, people stuck to home-based entertainment modes. Big films have been wooing them to theatres. As a producer/distributor, I have to do a balancing act. Spectacle movies should continue to be screened at a premium.

I constantly get the numbers (footfalls in theatres) on a daily basis for movies like 'RRR' and 'KGF' as well as other movies. It has come to my notice that audiences are not going for repeat viewings due to high ticket prices. After star TV mushroomed in the 1990s, footfalls in theatres fell. It's now the OTT's turn to affect cinema. 'F3' being a family entertainer, I have to keep the ticket prices at affordable levels. This is meant to attract family audiences in large numbers.

The audience's mindset is changing. In a family of five, if even one person feels that cinema tickets are too pricey, the entire family will desist from watching in a theatre. With 'F3', I want to make theatrical viewing attractive.

Non-theatrical revenue doesn't give me much kick. I am kicked about theatrical revenues. I like the idea of audiences enthusiastically watching my movies in a theatre! I strongly believe that 'F3' will be a movie that kindles their enthusiasm in a big way.

It's not easy to make pan-Indian movies. 'RRR' and 'KGF' were made with a vision before they went on the floors. If you want to woo the Hindi audience to theatres, you have to do extensive homework. 'F3' was never planned for such a thing.

In Hollywood, superhero movies/spectacle movies alone have thrived. We remember films like 'Avatar' and 'Avengers' alone. Indian films like 'RRR' and 'KGF' have begun the game for us. I am considering three scripts that have the potential to be pan-Indian. The projects will be announced in one or two years.

For 'F3', prime multiplexes in Hyderabad will sell tickets at Rs 250 plus GST (which is Rs 295, with Rs 45 going to the government). Prasads Multiplex, AMB etc fall in this category. As for others, GST will be included in the ticket price. In both cases, the producer/distributor gets only Rs 125 per ticket. The rest goes to the multiplex. People think that the entire ticket money goes to the producer. Single screens run on a rental basis.

It takes Rs 3 Cr to renovate a theatre. We at SVC invested Rs 15 Cr to build the multiplex in Kurnool. It's a 10-year lease. If I make calculations, I am making a loss in the theatre business. By the end of the 10th year, I will be making less returns on the theatre if I calculate 1% interest on Rs 15 Cr. National multiplexes are into the valuation game because they are into stocks. It's a different game altogether.

There are 450 theatres in Nizam. I urge everyone to please remember these stats. My company runs 60 of them on lease. Asian Cinemas and Suresh Babu run 150 of them on lease. When people say Dil Raju controls Nizam, do they understand the stats? How can I control the entire Nizam segment with 60 theatres? It is not true that we are dominant. If other theatres listen to me, it is because I settle their accounts no matter what is the fate of a film. I have goodwill in the industry because I keep my promises. Actors, directors, and distributors respect my word. I have earned this goodwill over the past 20 years. Critics don't understand such things!

OTT platforms are trying the pay-per-view model to test whether audiences will be ready to pay monies. If the model succeeds, they will continue it.

Updated on May 19, 2022