The government has given its green signal for cinemas to reopen in a new COVID-19 normal defined by rigorous dos and donts and theatre owners are getting ready too, but it may be a while before audiences get to see a new movie.
On Tuesday, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar announced the standard operating procedures (SOPs) that cinema halls must put in place before they open on October 15 after seven months of being closed.
The SOPs include one seat distance in theatres, 50 per cent capacity, masks at all time, proper ventilation and air conditioner temperature settings at above 23 degrees Celsius.
Cinema halls have been shut for the last seven months. They are now opening from October 15. For the safety of people, we have come out with SOPs to be followed, Javadekar told reporters.
It was good news for multiplex and theatre owners who have long maintained that it was time for the curtains to go up and also for movie aficionados missing their big screen experience. But the wariness persisted. Was it safe? How many people would actually brave the threat of COVID-19? What about the cost factor involved in getting theatres ready for the corona era? Given the extreme caution, there is unlikely to be any fresh content in the next few months, industry insiders indicated. No one wants to take a chance.
Sibashish Sarkar, Reliance Entertainment Group CEO, said reopening of cinemas is a positive sign for the industry but screening new releases will be difficult. “We are not releasing any film on Diwali (on November 14)… It is not possible to release a film on Diwali now. As of now, all cinema houses are not opening from October 15. Even if it opens on November 1, how can you release a film in a 10 or 15-day notice period? he asked.
Films such as Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif starrer Sooryavanshiand Ranveer Singhs 83 that are complete and ready for release wont be seen on the big screen anytime soon.
While many films moved to OTT platforms during the lockdown that started in March, the much awaited Sooryavanshi and 83 did not.
Sooryavanshi, which was scheduled to release on March 24, just a day before the lockdown came into effect, was supposed to hit the screens on Diwali. “We are not sure whether we will change both Sooryavanshi or 83 or we will just shift one film… It is clear… from December to March is the realistic timeline, Sarkar told
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)