EXCLUSIVE: Exhibitors on when will cinemas reopen; Say 'Bell Bottom & Sooryavanshi will draw the crowd'

Updated on Jun 25, 2021 05:14 PM IST  |  364.8K
   
Exhibitors on when will cinemas reopen; Say 'Bell Bottom & Sooryavanshi will draw the crowd' (Pic Credit: Jackky Bhagnani / Instagram)
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With film shoots having resumed and new theatrical release date announcements being made, the film industry seems to be getting back on track. However, there isn’t any update on when the cinemas will reopen. In April this year, cinema halls were asked to remain shut because of the rise in the Covid 19 cases. Pinkvilla reached out to the President of Cinema Owners And Exhibitors Association Of India (COEAI), Nitin Datar, to know when they expect the theaters to reopen. 

“We have got no intimation from the government as yet. Secondly, we don’t know how many shows will the exhibitors be allowed to run, and third we don’t know about the operational capacity - will it be with 50 percent or 75 percent occupancy. So even if an Akshay Kumar, or any producer for that matter announced a film, that doesn't mean the movie will surely release. Especially, unless Maharashtra, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh open up, I don’t think any producer will release their film. So once that happens, which I think will only happen after July, post which it will be clear about how many theatres are opening throughout the country,” informs Datar.

We also don’t know how much the makers of Bell Bottom will charge us. If they charge a major chunk of the percentage, then with 50 percent capacity or lesser shows, I don’t think any exhibitor will go for the film
Nitin Datar

He further adds, “Having said that, I don’t think many exhibitors will reopen unless the dates and everything is confirmed. We also don’t know how much the makers of Bell Bottom will charge us. If they charge a major chunk of the percentage, then with 50 percent capacity or lesser shows, I don’t think any exhibitor will go for the film.”

Datar is optimistic that whenever the cinemas reopen, a big film will be able to bring the audience back to the theatres. “Any big banner or a big artist film like Bell Bottom & Sooryavanshi will draw the crowd. If the movie is good, then people will definitely come to the theatres. Most probably by July 15 the cinemas might open. Not all, but few especially the multiplexes will reopen, though I can’t say the same thing for single single cinemas. They have limitations of shows, and if single screens are allowed only two shows in a day, then it will be difficult for them.”

Kamal Gianchandani, CEO of PVR Pictures and President of Multiplex Association of India, is hopeful that the reopening notification will come soon, after which they will decide on the opening date. He adds that from a safety point of view too they are totally prepared. “All the SOP’s are in place. You would recall we had reopened in October last year and were open till April 2021, so we are fully prepared for reopening and everything is all set. (As exhibitors), there are a lot of films we are looking forward to, but release date is something which producers will decide on. We will have to wait for them to take that call,” Gianchandani states. 

The property tax is going on, water tax is going on, electric bills are going on - but we are not getting a single penny of income. We are suffering a lot
Manoj Desai

Like many sectors, theatre business too have suffered losses because of the pandemic. Talking about the same, Executive Director of the G7 Multiplex and Maratha Mandir cinema, Manoj Desai says, “My conscience and my managing director knows how we are managing. We have entered into the second year now, the property tax is going on, water tax is going on, electric bills are going on - but we are not getting a single penny of income. We are suffering a lot.”

He further adds, “Exhibitors are the people all over India who run the pictures for so many days, weeks and years. It's a world record as far as DDLJ (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge) is concerned, that we have been running it for 26 years. But when we will open again I don’t know.” Will they continue screening DDLJ at Maratha Mandir after the cinemas are permitted to function? “Yes, hundred percent,” promises Desai.

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