Karnataka: Ban on multiplexes may dampen footfall in malls | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: Left out of the Unlock process yet again, the film industry has urged the government to allow multiplexes and single screens to resume shows.
DR Jairaj, president, Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, said the executive committee comprising film producers, distributors and theatre owners will meet on Monday and a delegation will call on chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Tuesday to request him to permit film exhibitions.
“It is unfair to exclude movie theatres from operating when the air-conditioned Metro and other public transport services are permitted with 100% occupancy,” said Jairaj. “We request the government to allow film screening. It would stimulate the Kannada film industry which employs about 35,000 people.”
The Covid-19 technical advisory committee said film theatres were excluded from the Unlock process because of the fear of crowding.
“Unlock 3.0 rules are valid for two weeks from Monday, and more relaxations including resumption of film screening may be considered if Covid cases decline further after July 19. The chief minister will take a final call,” said CN Ashwath Narayan, deputy chief minister and chairman of Covid-19 task force.
Shops in malls are also disappointed as owners believe that with multiplexes closed, footfall will be low.
“Multiplexes are the mainstay of the mall ecosystem as they contribute to around 30% of footfalls,” said Manoj Singh, Karnataka cluster head, Nexus that owns Forum chain of malls and UB City. “We are optimistic that cinema halls will be permitted in the next round of unlock measures as the pandemic wave is steadily ebbing.”
There are about 200 multiplex screens in 36 malls in Bengaluru alone and all are ready to resume operations with safety measures in place, said Mohit Bhargava, regional director, Inox Leisure Limited.
However, the more distressed sector are singlescreen theatres. About 175 of the 635 theatres in the state have closed permanently.
Jairaj said the best time to reopen theatres is mid-July as the film industry can cash in on the festive season which begins with the auspicious month of Shravan in August. Several big-budget productions such as KGF 2, Salaga, Kotigobba 2 and Bhajarangi 2 are ready to hit screens.
Meanwhile, there is also heartburn over the decision to keep pubs closed while allowing bars to resume service. “We don’t understand the rationale,” said G Honnagiri Gowda, president, Karnataka Wine Merchants Association. “The only difference between pubs and bars is that pubs can serve loose beer in pitchers. The government must also explain how closing movie halls alone is helpful in curbing the pandemic when the entire business ecosystem is being opened up.”

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Sagar Biswas

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