After a long wait, the central government has finally given the go ahead for cinema halls across the country to open up. As per the new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on 30 September - cinemas/ theatres/ multiplexes will be permitted to open with upto 50% of their seating capacity, for which, SOP will be issued by Ministry of Information & Broadcasting from 15 October onwards.
This decision comes after repeated appeals made by cinema theatre owners and associations to the government asking for single screens and multiplexes to be reopened. The multiplex industry itself employees over 2,00,000 workers and have reportedly faced a loss of Rs 10,000 crore because of the 6-month long lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Permission from State Governments Required:
Reacting to the news of the re-opening of cinema halls in India, the Multiplex Association of India (MAI) said that they were committed to ensure a safe, secure and hygienic cinema-going experience for movie lovers. Besides thanking the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting for their support and guidance, the association also sought permission from state governments to reopen cinema theatres in their respective states. “An urgent permission from the State Governments to reopen cinemas in their States would go a substantial distance in ensuring that the cinema exhibition sector is able to quickly recover from the dire economic and financial impact of the epidemic,” the MAI statement read.
About the Content at Cinemas:
Mr PV Sunil, Managing Director, Carnival Cinemas also stressed that a few state governments were yet to give a go-ahead on the reopening of theatres. However, he expressed his happiness over the timing of the announcement since Diwali is around the corner. Regarding the content slate that will be shown at theatres, Sunil said, “On the content side, the producers are already having conversations about releasing the films. We have limited time slots, so the content shouldn’t be a problem. In the first few weeks, there may not be an overflow of content but things would resume to normalcy soon.”
Reopening a Relief for Employees in the Entertainment Sector:
BookMyShow, a popular Indian entertainment ticket booking and marketing platform, also welcomed the government’s decision to reopen cinemas from 15 October. Ashish Saksena, COO of Cinemas, BookMyShow, said that the move will bring immense relief to scores of employees across the entertainment sector which has been one of the worst hit through this pandemic. “We have been closely working with all our 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,” Saksena commented.
The first big release after the government’s announcement to reopen cinemas will be Akshay Kumar’s Laxmmi Bomb, which is scheduled to be out on 9 November. This Diwali release however will not be entering cinemas in India and will drop straight on the Disney+ Hotstar platform. Laxmmi Bomb will be releasing in theatres across Australia, New Zealand and the UAE. It remains to be seen if the producers of Laxmmi Bomb now renegotiate their terms with Disney+ Hotstar and make the film available for a theatrical release in India too.
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