Multiplex Association of India and single-screen owners urge government to reopen theatres by June 30

Updated: May 30, 2020, 08:34 IST | Upala KBR | Mumbai

Multiplex, single-screen owners appeal to Centre to reopen cinemas by June 30, suggest staggered seating, online tickets as part of safety measures.

Sooryavanshi will be among the first films to release
Sooryavanshi will be among the first films to release

Almost 10 weeks since cinemas downed their shutters, the Multiplex Association of India and single-screen owners dashed off a letter to the Centre and state governments, urging them to reopen theatres by June 30. The association has also intimated them of the safety measures that will be adopted in theatres across the country.

Abhimanyu Bansal, who runs Entertainment Paradise, a multiplex chain in Jaipur, says, "We are hoping that theatres will reopen between June 15 and June 30, once the government approves the guidelines submitted by the industry."

Among other rules, the theatres have proposed deep-cleaning of auditorium seats on a daily basis and temperature checks of audience. Cinema staff will have to mandatorily wear masks and gloves, and download Aarogya Setu app on their phones. Cinemas will also employ a staggered seating arrangement in the auditoriums to enable social distancing. "At the onset, we might be allowed only 50 per cent occupancy," adds Bansal.

Which, in turn, begs the question: will big-budget films — including Akshay Kumar's Sooryavanshi that has been waiting in the wings for two months — hit the screens, knowing there will be a dramatic dip in footfalls? "Sooryavanshi will be one of the first few films to release, but the producers may delay its release by a few weeks. They may initially want to gauge [the footfalls]. Big movies like Sooryavanshi and Radhe will lure the audiences back to the theatres," he says.

The Multiplex Association of India has proposed staggered seating to enable social distancing
The Multiplex Association of India has proposed staggered seating to enable social distancing 

Exhibitor Akshaye Rathi, who runs 17 single screens across Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, believes they can fall back on Hollywood biggies in the first few weeks, if Hindi filmmakers adopt a wait-and-watch attitude. "Tenet, Wonder Woman 1984 and Mulan are slated to release between July and August. We can also collaborate with producers and take relatively smaller films like Ali Abbas Zafar's Khaali Peeli beyond the 15 big centres."

Safety at the screens

Encourage online booking of tickets to avoid queueing
Food and beverages to be ordered through app to minimise human contact
Masks and PPE kits to be made available for purchase

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