From ‘200’ theatres to ‘12,000’ screens; Kannada Film Industry has come a long way

The year 2022 has been entirely about the Kannada Cinema and its Box Office performance proves it. Unlike the last few years, Kannada Film Industry has been game-changing with incredible nationwide streaming.

Rise of the Kannada Film Industry

All thanks to Telugu Filmmaker SS Rajamouli, south Indian cinema took a whole new place in the country after the magnum opus Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali: The Conclusion. Rajamouli paved the way, but KGF star Yash deserves credit for fantasizing about a pan-India Kannada film industry. KGF Chapter 1 performed well in the Hindi belt in 2018, but the true impact was the sequel (KGF Chapter 2), which was released in 2022.


And now, the latest release Kantara is making headlines almost every day, and the netizens going gaga over the film.

Sadly, Kannada films were just brushed away by other industries previously. It was the love of Kannadigas, and love for the language that the industry thrived on with low-budget movies and finally arrived on the national stage.

The Kannada film industry has now definitely started reaching out to wider audiences, agreed Atul Mohan, editor of the trade magazine Complete Cinema. “Earlier, the industry itself was considered very small and these films were not acquired by television broadcasters for dubbed satellite premieres. But they are gradually being taken more seriously,” Mohan said. The KGF franchise has been instrumental in turning the tables and now several other Kannada filmmakers are looking to mount bigger films. Over the next year, he sees more Kannada films releasing dubbed versions and stars from the region attaining popularity in Hindi-speaking belts. Quoted The Mint.


Sandalwood produces most films

The Kannada film industry was known for producing the most films in the Indian film industry, but Sandalwood earned the honor of earning the most money this year among film industries across the country. According to reports, the top five Kannada grossers will have earned more than 1,800 crores by 2022. A significant portion of that sum, close to 1,200 crores, was earned by Hombale films alone from KGF Chapter 2.

Rajendra Singh Jyala, chief programming officer at INOX Leisure Ltd said traditionally, Telugu and Tamil films have dominated business in the south Indian market, making up 75-80% of overall collections. The Kannada industry never dubbed its own films or allowed other films dubbed in Kannada to play in the state. “Kannada films were never produced on a large scale, though as a market, they release a maximum number of movies per year. But as they see other languages gaining wide acceptance across the country, they are learning to scale up,” Jyala told The Mint.

In the Hindi market, films such as Charlie 777 and Vikrant Rona sparked an interest. Surprisingly, a low-budget film like Kantara delved deeper into the Hindi belt and grossed over 400 crores.


The president of the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, Ba Ma Harish, told News 18 that a lot of new developments happened in 2022. He further said, “KGF became a brand, Vikrant Rona had Sudeep, but the success of Kantara across the nation and even abroad has brought the industry a lot of fame. A small-budget movie garnering so much attention is wonderful. This will not just help the Kannada industry but other industries as well.”

Earlier, Veterans use to say that it was a matter of pride if Kannada movies were released in 200 theatres across the country. ‘KGF Chapter: 2’, Vikrant Rona, and Kantara were released on more than 12,000 screens across the country.

“Some recent Kannada films have managed numbers that Hindi films haven’t done in the north so there is definitely a reason to celebrate. Everyone wants a pie of the Hindi-speaking market now and southern filmmakers are building big on it,” said Bihar-based exhibitor Vishek Chauhan admitting that a star like Sudeep today holds more eyeballs in his town than, say, Ayushmann Khurrana or Rajkummar Rao who’re known more to multiplex audiences.