The Singapore premiere of Tamil blockbuster Veeram was postponed after its producers failed to pay a bank debt in time and were not allowed to release the film, distributors told The Straits Times.
The movie was set to debut here on Thursday evening, but was cancelled after cinemas failed to obtain an encrypted code needed to unlock the digitally formatted movie. At least two cinemas, Rex Cinemas in Mackenzie Road and Golden Digital Theatre in Beach Road, were affected.
The film was to have been released yesterday in India and on Thursday in other countries, including Singapore.
But at about 8.30pm on Thursday, the two cinemas were told by the distributors to stop selling tickets, and that they would not be getting the necessary code.
This upset customers, some of whom had queued for more than nine hours for tickets. When customers at Rex Cinemas, where the movie had been scheduled for 9pm and 12.15am, refused to leave and began shouting at staff, the police were called in.
Patrons at both cinemas were eventually given refunds or had their tickets stamped for the next day's screenings.
Rex Cinemas owner Kumar, who declined to give his full name, said Rex received the code only at about 2.30am yesterday. A representative from film distributor AP International said cinemas across the Gulf and Europe were also affected by the delay.
Hundreds showed up at Rex Cinemas as early as 9am yesterday and were finally able to see the first screening at 11.45am.
Some of them were among those who had turned up the night before. Among them was engineer Karthik Thangavel, 33. "I've been a fan of Ajith Kumar since 1993," he said, referring to the film's lead actor, a major star.
Shaw Organisation's vice-president of media Terence Heng said problems with such codes, known as key delivery messages (KDMs), were rare as they would have been secured days before a screening.
A KDM is required to screen digitally formatted movies. Each KDM is unique and can work for only a specific cinema hall server and movie title.