However, single screens adopt wait and watch approach
As the countdown begins for theatres to resume screening films from October 15, many multiplexes are gearing up to welcome customers. However, though the Central and State governments have permitted cinema halls to resume operations with 50% seating, many single screen theatres in the city will not immediately re-open as they have adopted a ‘wait and watch’ approach.
A senior representative of PVR Cinemas said that they would resume screenings for the general public from October 16. “The schedule will be out soon. Online bookings will begin from the night of October 13. All precautionary measures for a safe and hygienic cinema experience for movie-goers are in place,” the representative said.
Sources in INOX said that they would “gradually” open all screens over the next few days, and within 15 days, all the screens would be functional.
But not all standalone theatres in the city are ready to resume screening immediately.
D.R. Jairaj, chairman, Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, said that the Chamber would soon call a meeting of producers, distributors and exhibitors to discuss and decide on resuming operations in single screen theatres.
“While the exhibitors are worried about the content, producers are worried about patronage. Though most of them are enthusiastic about resuming screening, uncertainty over various aspects will delay opening of many theatres,” he said.
A few exhibitors The Hindu spoke to said that they were not ready for resumption of screening in the current circumstances. Apart from the problem of content, they expressed worry over whether people would come to theatres.
Maneka, Mukunda and Radhakrishna are among theatres that will not resume screening films immediately, sources said.
N.S. Srinivasa Murthy, partner in Menaka theatre and former president of FKCCI, said that they have “indefinitely” postponed the opening of Menaka. “On the one hand, the number of COVID-19 cases in the city is on the rise, which might prompt people not to go to theatres. On the other hand, there is 50% cap on the seating capacity. Screening should be a continuous process. We cannot stop after a few days owing to lack of content. Hence, we will wait,” he said.
Veteran producer K.C.N. Chandrashekar hoped that the theatre business would pick up by Deepavali. “The industry will have to gain momentum in the first few weeks. We still do not know how people will respond, and we cannot guess during such unprecedented times. Hence, everyone is adapting a wait and watch approach,” he said.
A manager of a standalone theatre in the city said that fear of additional loss after being shut for around seven months was one of the main reasons to wait.
Santosh is among the standalone theatres that are set resume operations. Arun Kumar B.S., owner of Santosh, said that initially they would screen “running films” that were released in February and March. They had in stock Shivarjuna, starring the the late Chiranjeevi, which was released just before the lockdown was imposed in March.
“We might also go for re-runs of old movies. Once we start, we will get to know how things pan out, which will help us plan for the future. This will give a good picture to producers and distributors. Based on the response, producers can take a decision on releasing new films,” he said.
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