Although the Kerala government has allowed movie theatres to resume business from January 5 at a 50 per cent occupancy while observing Covid protocols, theatre owners in the State are yet to draw up a plan on how to go about it. According to reports film enthusiasts will have to wait for a week as exhibitors have sought incentives from the government to overcome the Covid-induced losses.
According to sources, the movie halls which have remained shut since the start of the pandemic last year need to be refurbished before reopening.
According to the Film Exhibitors’ United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK), the government should provide tax reductions on tickets besides waiving KSEB’s fixed electricity charges.
Meanwhile, big-budget Malayalam movies will only have a theatre release by April or May 2021. Mohanlal’s Marakkar-Arabikadalinte Simham, Mammooty’s One and The Priest, Fahadh Faasil’s Malik and Dulquer Salman’s Kurup are the big-budget movies awaiting release this year.
Earlier, producer Anto Joseph, who did Malik, took to Twitter to announce that the film will be released only by May 13, while Priyadarshan’s Marakkar-Arabikadalinte Simham will be in theatres on March 26.
According to reports, the Theatres owners association in Kerala are annoyed with actor Mohanlal about the release of his starrer Drishyam 2 on Amazon Prime Video directly with the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce supposedly calling the actor’s decision as “selfish”.
Movie theatres across the State were shut for nine months following Covid-19.
While the governments in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and West Bengal have reduced entertainment cess, the Kerala government has not yet offered any official subsidies to theatre owners. The Tamil Nadu government has also increased the seating capacity in theatres and multiplexes from 50% to 100%. Tamil superstar Vijay’s action film Master is the first big-budget Indian film to hit the theatres post lockdown. It will reach theatres on January 13, 2021.
Under ‘Unlock 5,’ the government had suggested several measures which included 50 per cent seating occupancy, social distancing, thermal screening, protection gear for staff, masks, sanitisation, and mandatorily providing ‘contact numbers’ for tracing people.
In addition, all entertainment avenues, including cinema theatres, auditoriums, and halls where cultural events occurred, will also be opened from January 5. However, it is not clear whether stadiums where sporting events are organised will be thrown open.
Not more than 100 people are permitted to attend cultural events staged indoors, and those happening in an open area cannot have a crowd of more than 200 people. Earlier, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, “If such events are not allowed to resume, it could even affect the survival of many art forms.”
With certain restrictions, festivals associated with temples and churches will be allowed from January 5 onwards.
In several parts of the country, cinema halls resumed functioning from October. However, the Kerala government remained firm on their decision and did not allow the resumption of film exhibition.