Cinemas can run at full capacity, film industry feeling good

Meenakshi Verma Ambwani New Delhi | Updated on January 31, 2021

File photo   -  The Hindu

Cinema halls will continue to follow other prescribed protocols on sanitisation, face masks, and thermal screening

With the Information & Broadcasting Ministry giving its nod to cinema halls to open at full seating capacity from February 1, the multiplex industry is hoping to witness stronger recovery.

The industry is hoping State governments give the go ahead for full seating in the next few days. Now, the release of big budget films, which had so far been held back, due to the 50 per cent seating cap norms, are expected.

Up to States, UTs now

While movie halls in containment zones are not allowed to operate, States and UTs can consider additional measures as per the field assessment, said the SOP document released by the I&B Ministry.

Information & Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar on Sunday said that cinema halls will need to adhere to all the necessary Covid-19 protocols for sanitisation and physical distancing. “We will encourage online booking of tickets. Staggered show timings will need to be maintained for crowd management at the entry and exit points. Customers will be allowed to buy food and beverage from the stalls at the theatres and can carry it with them inside (the auditorium),” he added.

States such as Gujarat and Tamil Nadu were quick to allow multiplexes to operate at 100 percent seating capacity on Sunday, post the Central government’s announcement. Industry players expect West Bengal, Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to also follow suit.

Karan Taurani, Vice-President, Elara Capital said, “We believe even if the producers see 70 per cent of the States opening up at 100 percent occupancy, they will start announcing release dates in the coming weeks.”

Blockbusters soon

The multiplex industry has been awaiting the release of several tent pole films including Sooryavanshi, 83 and Laal Singh Chaddha.

Alok Tandon, CEO, Inox Leisure Ltd said, “For the revival of the cinema exhibition industry, relaxations of the seating norms was a vital prerequisite. This would ease the apprehensions in the minds of content producers and studios, who may now announce the release dates of their movies. We now look forward to the State governments to provide us the nod to implement the revised guidelines..”

The Multiplex Association of India and the Producers Guild of India welcomed the government’s decision and said this was an important step in facilitating the film industry’s recovery.

Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Ltd added, “India has done well to control the Covid-19 spread along with the large scale roll out of the vaccination. This move would give confidence to the producers to release their much awaited films and audiences to return to the cinemas to watch their choicest movies in the company of their loved ones..”

Published on January 31, 2021

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