With the Centre allowing cinema halls to re-open, a few theatres in Madhya Pradesh are gearing up to start screening films from Thursday, but their owners say the business will take time to pick up.
Bhopal Cine Owners Associations secretary Aizazuddin told PTI on Wednesday that "except a multiplex, no other cinema hall will reopen in the state capital on October 15 because of unavailability of the audience".
The Centre has permitted cinema halls and multiplexes to reopen with up to 50 per cent of their seating capacity, which theatres owners say is not in their business interest.
"During this period, no producer will take the risk of releasing his film. Therefore, we have to start with old films for which viewers won't be available," Aizazuddin said.
"We also demanded from the government that our electricity bills for the last six months be waive off and the property tax be reduced by 50 per cent, but so far no relief has been given to theatre owners," he said.
In Indore, Central Circuit Cine Associations (a distributors body) director O P Goyal said on Thursday, two multiplexes and two single-screen cinema halls will reopen with 50 per cent capacity.
To ensure social distancing, one seat between two viewers will be kept vacant, he said.
"Though cinema halls are reopening after a long gap, it is difficult to ascertain how many viewers will come to the theatres," Goyal said.
He also said that as of now, old hit films will be screened in these halls as new films of big stars are not being released currently.
Adarsh Ramlal Yadav, a single-screen theatre owner in Indore, said the government's decision to allow cinema halls to reopen will give them an opportunity to re-start their business at a slow pace after six months.
"As producers are not releasing any new films, we have to screen old films which won't draw crowds. We have also demanded that our electricity dues for the closure period be waived off, and 50 per cent rebate in property tax," he said.
According to industry sources, there are six single- screen cinema halls in Indore and more than 40 screens in various multiplexes in the city.