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Cinema industry cheers as Maharashtra allows theatres to reopen from Oct

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on September 25, 2021

Akshay Kumar announces Diwali release of his much-awaited Sooryavanshi

Come October, the cinema industry may finally see the cash-registers ringing, with the Maharashtra government finally giving its nod to theatres to reopen from October 22.

With Karnataka too deciding to allow cinemas to operate at 100 per cent occupancy from October 1 in districts with low infection rates — the second State after Rajasthan to do so — this could kick-start the crucial recovery phase for an industry that has been hit hard by the pandemic.

Maharashtra is an important film-territory for film-makers with its contribution ranging from 35-40 per cent to the box-office revenues of Hindi movies. Industry players and analysts believe this will be a big nudge for more and more film-makers to announce their films’ release dates. In fact, actor Akshay Kumar was quick to announce on Twitter that his much-anticipated Sooryavanshi (produced by Reliance Entertainment, Rohit Shetty and Dharma Productions) will be released on Diwali.

 

Karan Taurani, Senior Vice-President, Elara Capital, said that many studios had held back their releases so far, due to restrictions in Maharashtra. “This is a positive development not just for the Hindi film industry but also for Hollywood releases,” he added.

OTT release impact

Taurani noted that the trend of Direct OTT release of large films had also slowed down as film producers were waiting for the Maharashtra circuit to open up. Kamal Gianchandani, President, Multiplex Association of India that met the Maharashtra CM on Saturday, said, “We are thankful to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra for this decision. Karnataka government’s move to allow 100 per cent capacity is a progressive step in the right direction and we sincerely hope that other State Governments will take similar measures.” He said they expected Hindi film producers to start announcing their release dates next week. “We are expecting a busy third quarter in terms of movie releases,” he added.

₹4,800-crore loss

The industry body had earlier this month said that the Maharashtra's cinema exhibition industry has seen losses of ₹4,800 crore due to various lockdowns since March 2020. The Maharashtra government said it will be releasing guidelines for cinemas soon.

Alok Tandon, CEO - INOX Leisure Ltd, said, “We are confident that with this much-awaited announcement, content producers would also plan their releases, which should strengthen the Hindi film content pipeline in the months to come and usher in better health for the cinema exhibition industry. With the hugely successful vaccination programme and significantly low Covid-19 cases, we are optimistic that people will return to cinemas as before and we will witness the same happy emotions in our lobbies.”

Taurani felt that more States are likely to allow 100 per cent occupancy over the next 2-3 months as the vaccination pace continues to ramp up.

Published on September 25, 2021

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