Theatres to pull the curtains before Diwali

While the state government has unlocked theatres from November 5, Mumbaikars will have to hold on for another week to enjoy the experience.

Film exhibitors have informed that theatres will be open for the public not before next week. "Many of the employees stay outside the city limits. We need to give them time to return. Also, we need time to implement the COVID-19 standard operating procedures. The premises needs to be sanitised before resuming operations," Nitin Datar, president, Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India (COEAI) told the Free Press Journal.

Datar stated that the price of the tickets will remain the same. Halls will be operating at 50 per cent of their capacity. "Even if we operate at 50 per cent capacity, we will be able to recover the electricity and logistical charges. People are enthused about visiting theatres again. With the festive season around the corner, things will improve soon," Datar stated.

He also mentioned that cinema hall owners are ready to sacrifice their profit. However, the government also needs to think about providing them with financial aid. "Single screen owners will suffer the most. Distributors won't release a film without fifteen days' notice. They want publicity before their release," stated Lalit Modi, a city-based film exhibitor. He also mentioned that the government should think of providing single screens with tax rebates at least.

Meanwhile, multiplex chains have also informed that they won't be operational before next week. "There are multiple screens in a multiplex. We will have to implement the SOPs before we open the doors for the public," stated a spokesperson of a multiplex chain.

Multiplexes will follow staggered timings. Patrons will have to undergo temperature screening before they enter. The show timings will be arranged in such a manner that only one screen will have an interval at a time. The spokesperson confirmed that ticket prices at multiplexes will also remain the same. "The formula of ticketing will not change. Unless there is a new release, we will be showing films that were already running before the lockdown," said the official.

He also mentioned that patrons will have to keep their masks on throughout the show timings. They won't be allowed to take food inside the exhibition hall. "The revenue of multiplexes depends 60 per cent on ticket sales and 40 per cent on food and beverage sales. Patrons can buy food and consume at the dining area. However, they won't be able to take it inside," he added.

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