Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued new guidelines on May 30 for phased re-opening of areas outside the containment zones. Reopening of cinemas halls, fall in phase III and the decision regarding restarting theatres will be taken after assessing the situation.
Theatres in many states had shut shop as a precautionary measure even before the nationwide lockdown was announced.
For over two months, the box office business is running dry and theatres have incurred huge losses.
According to film trade analysts, this is probably the first time in the history of Indian cinemas when theatres have recorded zero ticket sales for as long as 60 days.
If we go by expert analysis then Hindi film industry alone has recorded losses to the tune of Rs 1,500 crore since the lockdown was imposed in the country.
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While situation is critical for multiplexes, it is worsening for single screen theatres. In fact, many are even thinking of complete shutdown.
Earlier this month, single screen owners in Karnataka had written to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman saying that the exhibitors in the state have suffered a loss of Rs 21 crore due to the lockdown.
While there is still no certainty regarding opening of cinema halls, the fact that the government is considering reopening of theatres outside containment zones depending on the situation is a ray of hope.
If exhibitors are keenly waiting to restart operations, audience is equally eager to go to theatres.
According to a recent survey by Ormax Media, around 82 percent Indians are missing going to theatres.
Earlier this month, the Multiplex Association of India (MAI) had submitted enhanced safety and precautions plan for cinemas to Information & Broadcasting Ministry.
From staggered seating to contactless ticket purchase, MAI has put down all the necessary precautionary measures theatres need to take whenever they resume business.
Many multiplex chain operators are hopeful that theatres will open at least in July.
Multiplex operator PVR’s Chairman Ajay Bijli had said that cinema halls are likely to re-open as soon as mid-July.In many international markets, theatres have announced to restart business and that too is giving confidence to Indian exhibitors.