Theatres gearing to open amidst uncertainty
Owners are not confident about new films being released and whether fans will turn up
After over six months of inactivity, the cinema trade circle – comprising producers, distributors and exhibitors – is abuzz following the Central government’s decision to allow cinema halls to resume operations with 50% seating from October 15.
D.R. Jairaj, chairman, Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, said that they will be approaching the State government with request that the new guidelines be regularised. The Multiplex Association of India has also urged the State government for “urgent permission to reopen cinemas.”
Managements of single screen theatres and multiplexes, such as INOX and PVR, said they will ensure a “a safe and hygienic cinema experience for movie goers”.
However, many expressed worry over whether citizens will visit theatres given that a majority of people are not patronising restaurants and avoiding public transport as far as possible.
A film distributor said, “On the one hand, there is a cap of 50% on seating. This will impact a producer’s decision to release films that are complete and ready.”
Veteran producer K.C.N. Chandrashekar said that producers, distributors and exhibitors should sit and sort out issues regarding releasing of films and theatre charges. “Producers may not be willing to release films right away, and not all theatre owners might be willing to resume operations. Many such issues need to be sorted out,” he said.
N.S. Srinivasa Murthy, partner of Menaka theatre and former president of FKCCI, said that they are initially planning to run old films or those that were released in February-March. “Based on the response and also the COVID-19 situation, producers will take a decision on releasing new films,” he said.
According to the manager of a theatre in Bengaluru ,instilling confidence in people to visit a theatre will be a challenge. “We will incur more expenditure to put in place anti-COVID-19 safety measures with less revenue,” he said.
A representative of INOX said that most of their screens will resume operations on October 15. Initially, they will screen re-runs and library content. “There are quite a few big movies in various languages getting ready to be released soon,” he said.
Mall owners hope to see more patronage
Mall owners are happy that cinema halls will resume operations in the hope that they will see more customers.
Uday Garudachar, owner of Garuda Mall chain, said that cinema halls are ‘footfall drivers’ in malls. “There are over 15 screens in Garuda Mall chain. I am sure that all of them will resume screening films from October 15 so that business picks up by Dasara and Deepavali,” he said.