Mumbai: Cinema owners stare at COVID second wave impact after last year’s losses

Members of cinema hall associations and those associated with shopping malls and the entertainment industry have said that last year has been the toughest period for their industry.

Cinema hall associations’ members said that there are 1,200 single-screen cinema halls in Maharashtra out of which 470 halls were operational before the pandemic broke out and seeing the present situation today, those associated with the industry said that nearly 30 percent of the screens will not open up.

“In the past one year, most of the films were released on OTT platforms, but as the number of cases started to fall post-November we thought, we would be able to revive our losses,” said Nitin Datar, president of Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India.

Datar said that many producers had started to release the films in theatres from this year, however, they fear the prevailing second wave may lead to further losses this year.

“The state government has again imposed restrictions for cinema halls now we are afraid that producers may again stall the releases if the second wave hit us badly,” Datar said.

Furthermore, he mentioned that unless the government allows them exemption in tax rates then it would be impossible for the stakeholders to revive the financial losses.

“Since the last one year, each single-screen hall has due outstanding like property taxes, entertainment taxes and electricity taxes worth lakhs, in this situation the government needs to help us with a waiver,” Datar said.

Meanwhile, officials associated with shopping malls and multiplex chains said that BMC's order of having a mandatory covid-19 test required for entering a mall may prove fatal for the industry.

“The rapid antigen test would cost around Rs 250, now Mumbaikars will not prefer to pay that money just for entering a mall,” said an official of a city mall.

“After a year of suffering immense losses we were on the verge of reviving our losses as many big-ticket films are to be released on big screens however now we fear that the release may again get postponed and unless the big-ticket films are released, we won't be able to revive the losses,” said an official of a multiplex chain.

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