Mumbai: Most cinema halls may not open on Day 1, may wait for Akshay Kumar starrer on Nov 5

Although allowed to reopen from Friday, most cinema hall owners are unlikely to open on day one, amid concerns over feasibility of business owing to crowding restrictions and fear among people.
Associations are expecting cinemas to open completely on November 5 with an Akshay Kumar movie. (HT PHOTO)
Associations are expecting cinemas to open completely on November 5 with an Akshay Kumar movie. (HT PHOTO)
Updated on Oct 21, 2021 09:37 PM IST
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ByAroosa Ahmed, Mumbai

Although allowed to reopen from Friday, most cinema hall owners are unlikely to open on day one, amid concerns over feasibility of business owing to crowding restrictions and fear among people.

The Maharashtra government on October 13 issued guidelines to reopen cinema halls, theatres and auditoriums from October 22, by allowing them to operate at 50% of their capacity. The guidelines allow access only to people with Covid vaccination certificate or with Aarogya Setu app showing their ‘safe status’. Maharashtra has 532 multiplexes and 470 single-screen theatres. Of the 532, 259 multiplexes and 65 single-screen theatres are in Mumbai.

Citing huge losses that the owners suffered during the pandemic while paying electricity charges, salary of employees and property tax, cinema owners’ associations have stated that the recovery could take time. Associations believe that complete reopening of cinemas will be possible when films with big stars are scheduled to be released.

“Owners have been facing multiple challenges. They are paying a minimum electricity bill of 11,000 per week, salaries and property taxes. We are hopeful that the Maharashtra government will provide some relief. We are expecting cinemas to open completely on November 5 with an Akshay Kumar movie. Nearly 30% of the cinema halls are not likely to open at all due to the losses incurred,” said Nitin Datar, president, Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India.

Cinema owners have to adhere to a detailed standard operating procedure (SOP). Associations, however, said sticking to the SOP would be difficult and crowding could be an issue outside the canteen area and near the booking offices. “The SOP will be difficult to follow as no food is allowed inside the cinema halls and people will have to step outside during the interval. This would result in crowding outside the canteen premises. Advance booking is difficult for single-screen theatres and can result in crowding. We should be given police protection,” added Datar.

“We are ready to reopen cinema halls. A detailed discussion and a plan to implement coronavirus protocols have been devised by our managing director Arun Nahar. We have received 18 advance bookings for movies and will begin screenings from Friday. In order to ensure proper ventilation, windows in all our halls will be kept open. We will wait and watch,” said Manoj Desai, executive director, G7 Multiplex and Maratha Mandir Cinema.

Mumbai also has commercial theatres which hold shows of Marathi plays. Of the 40 theatres, only four are expected to resume from tomorrow. “We are waiting for the Maharashtra government to allow viewers at 100% capacity,” said Mangesh Kadam, spokesperson, Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Natya Parishad.

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Monday, December 06, 2021