Movie Theatres Re-open: Industry Hopes For State Govts To Allow Cinemas Soon Multiplexes request state governments to reopen cinemas in their respective states

By Debarghya Sil

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In a move to further ease down lockdown restrictions, on Wednesday the Ministry of Home Affairs allowed opening of movie theatres at 50 per cent of their seating capacity from October 15. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will issue a standard SOP for the reopening of cinema halls.

The move, of course, has been welcomed by the industry as it will be a great respite for multiplexes and the overall film industry, which were among the first to have been shut down in March as the country started registering Covid-19 cases.

Over the past few months, several actors and key figures in the film industry had urged the government to reopen theatres as hundreds and thousands of livelihoods depend on it. Even though shooting of films was resumed earlier, multiplexes continued to be shut.

Moreover, as film directors picked the alternative route of OTT platforms like Netflix and Hotstar to release their movies, it further aggravated the already stressed movie theaters industry.

According to a report by Live Mint, the theatrical market has incurred losses worth INR 3,000 crore across languages in the six months as cinema halls remained shut. The report further highlighted that the country has lost almost 12 per cent of its movie screen count because of the pandemic.

Whether people will step out of their homes to watch movies in cinema halls is yet to be seen, however, multiplex chains are relieved with the announcement.

Multiplexes Chain Welcome Govt's Move

Soon after the government's announcement, Multiplex Association of India in its statement welcomed the decision.

"Millions of movie lovers, employees of the cinema exhibition sector, along with the entire film industry were eagerly awaiting this announcement. We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting for their support and guidance. We are committed to ensure a safe, secure and a hygienic cinema going experience for the movie lovers of our country, as always, we would continue to assign top-most priority to the health and well-being of our guests and employees," the statement read.

The body further asked state governments to reopen cinemas in their states to help the cinema exhibition sector to recover.

Alok Tandon, chief executive officer (CEO), INOX Leisure Ltd said the decision has ushered in a lot of optimism not only for the film industry and its audiences, but also for the employees of the cinema exhibition and their families.

"We are completely geared up and prepared for the new normal, which would assign topmost priority to safety and hygiene. Our preparations on the hygiene and disinfection front will set new benchmarks for any public premises, whether inside the auditorium or in our lobbies and F&B counters," he added.

"We are positively hopeful that the state governments will now give us the green signal too, and allow us to resume the operations within the specified guidelines."

He said that the announcement would make the content producers plan their releases, which should strengthen the content pipeline for the remaining part of the year.

Inox currently has 147 multiplexes and 626 screens across 68 cities.

Welcoming the move, Devang Sampat, CEO, Cinepolis India said, "We have implemented stringent safety protocols in line with global best practices and are ready to welcome patrons back to a safe and secure, world class movie experience."

He further requested state governments to provide clearance for cinemas to reopen in their respective states.

Cinepolis currently has 390 screens across the country.

Ajay Bijli, chairman and managing director of PVR in an interview with CNBC TV18 said they have been shut for seven months and were in choppy water for some time. He appreciated the 50 per cent capacity mark set by the government and said in matter of time Maharashtra will reopen its theatres, as several restaurants are reopening.

PVR currently has 845 screens present across the country.

Popular ticketing platform BookMyShow's chief operating officer Ashish Saksena said the move will bring immense relief to scores of employees across the sector which has been one of the worst hit through this pandemic.

"As the category leader, BookMyShow recognises that we are in extraordinary times and is mindful of social distancing and sanitisation amongst other factors. The health and safety of all - from cine-goers to cinema partners, production houses and execution agencies - will be of paramount importance and BookMyShow will uphold all SOPs as mandated for our users' safe movie watching experience."

Saksena added that they have been working closely with their partners across the cinema industry to build measures for a safe and healthy movie viewing experience and are thrilled to welcome audiences back to the silver screens.

Debarghya Sil

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Correspondent

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