Maharashtra, one of the biggest markets for the theatre industry has allowed cinemas to reopen, bringing relief to both multiplex players and single-screen cinemas.
Theatres and auditoriums will be reopened in Maharashtra from October 22, the Office of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray tweeted on September 25.
The state contributes 25-30 percent to a Hindi film's box office collections, making it key to big Bollywood releases.
So far, only Akshay Kumar's big Bollywood venture Bell Bottom saw a theatrical release. However, the movie did average business at the box office due to the closure of cinemas in a big market like Maharashtra.
Analyst Karan Taurani, senior Vice-President, Elara Capital, said this is a big respite for cinemas as there will be large Hindi film releases during Diwali.
"It is also a positive for Hollywood ventures as Maharashtra contributes almost 40 percent of box office for English content," he added.
Many studios had held back releases due to theatres being shut in Maharashtra.
“Opening of Maharashtra is specifically significant because 18 percent of our screen strength lies in the state, the highest in our circuit and serves as a focal centre for the entertainment industry," said Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Limited.
Alok Tandon, CEO, INOX Leisure Ltd, said that with this announcement, content producers would also plan their releases, which should strengthen the Hindi film content pipeline in the months to come and usher in better health for the cinema exhibition industry.
Both INOX and PVR have 100 percent vaccinated staff.
Big Bollywood ventures including Akshay Kumar's Sooryavanshi, Ranveer Singh's 83, and Aamir Khan's Laal Singh Chaddha are lined up for theatrical release.
Carnival Cinemas also said that it is looking forward to reopening cinemas in Maharashtra and that this year it will be a big screen Diwali.
"We expect some big clashes of large Hindi and English films over the next few months with relaxations happening in terms of occupancy which is an important aspect for recovery as it will enable families to sit together, night curfew relaxations and lifting of weekend curbs in many states," said Taurani.
Recently, exhibitors and the film industry had made an appeal to the Maharashtra government to reopen cinemas which have not reopened since March last year.
Multiplex Association of India, which includes theatre chains such as PVR, INOX, and Cinepolis as its members had said that closure of cinemas resulted in a monthly loss of Rs 400 crore and overall the Maharashtra cinema exhibition industry has lost approximately Rs 4,800 crore in various lockdowns since March.In its appeal, the film industry also said that there are around 1,000 cinemas across Maharashtra that directly and indirectly employ lakhs of people.