Ready to open cinemas after one week, say exhibitors

May begin with Tamil actor Vijay’s movie Master scheduled for release on January 13

Film exhibitors on Tuesday informed that cinemas would be ready to welcome moviegoers by next week. Theatres in the State had remained closed for nearly nine months following the COVID-19- induced lockdown.

A meeting of the Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala (FEUoK) and Film Exhibitors Federation held here decided to complete disinfection work within a week. “We will be ready to screen Tamil actor Vijay’s movie Master scheduled for release on January 13. However, the producers and distributors have to ensure a steady release of movies after reopening,” said M.C. Bobby, general secretary of the FEUoK.

Despite the government giving its nod to reopen cinemas with 50% occupancy from Tuesday, the exhibitors did not open stating that they need at least one week’s preparatory time.

Three shows a day

They pointed out that only three shows could be screened daily as per the timings prescribed by the government.

“We may need 45 minutes between each show to disinfect the cinema halls. The producers and distributors will have to agree on the restricted timings and earnings during this period,” said Mr. Bobby. The theatre owners reiterated their demand for a reduction on the tax burden and fixed electricity charges.

Antony Perumbavoor, producer and president of FEUoK, justified his decision to release Drishyam 2 on the over-the-top (OTT) platform while stating that he had not signed any contract agreeing to screen the movie in theatres. “The decision cannot be reversed despite the reopening of cinemas,” he said.

On whether the organisation was adopting double standards over its stance against those releasing the movies on digital platforms, Mr. Bobby said that they had opposed producers who had released their movies on the digital platform after collecting advance from the theatre owners.

Producers’ demand

Meanwhile, Kerala Film Producers Association and Film Distributors Association have demanded the settlement of the arrears incurred by the theatre owners before going ahead with a full-fledged release of movies.

A joint meeting of producers, distributors and exhibitors convened by Kerala Film Chamber here on Wednesday is expected to hold detailed discussions on the way forward.

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