Paused multiplexes wait for Centre to press ‘Play’

Mumbai: Movie watching experience on the big screen is not going to be the same again. The Multiplex Association of India (MAI) is ready with a set of protocols (SOP) as film exhibitors prepare to get back to business soon.

The association on Tuesday appealed the Union Home Ministry to give a go ahead for multiplex operations across the state. "Malls, airlines and metros have already been restarted as part of 'Unlock India' mission. Cinemas are equipped with better abilities to ensure crowd management and the highest degree of safety protocols are set to be implemented,” the letter read.

Apart from the usual fumigation drives, multiplexes will follow staggered show timings so that only one screen has an interval at a given time. To ensure distancing, every second seat in the rows will be empty. Selling of paper tickets will be discontinued and patrons would be able to book tickets either through payment getaways, or by scanning QR codes at the ticket counters. Throughout the visit, patrons would be required to wear facemasks and the 'Aarogya Setu' app will be made compulsory on their phones.

"In the past few weeks, union home ministry officials held dialogues with cinema exhibition associations and the meetings went positively. Now we have appealed to the government urging us to announce an official date for resuming cinema exhibitions," industrial source, told FPJ on the condition of anonymity.

Nearly 10,000 multiplexes across the nation have been shut since March and more than 2 lakh people are directly employed with the exhibition industry. The film exhibitors have been incurring monthly loss of Rs 1,500 crores for the last six months of which Rs 1,000 are from ticket sales and Rs 500 crores are food revenue.

The source said, many producers are ready with their films and will make release announcements as soon as the government announces an official date of resumption. Also likening to countries like China and UK he pointed out globally 85 countries have reopened the cinemas and multiplexes for the audiences. "Although some films have released on the digital platforms, there won't be any dearth of content as producers including those of international films are waiting for multiplexes to reopen in India," the source stated.

"The opening of cinemas will also push the retail sector as this will bring more people inside the malls," he added.

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