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As films get postponed, lack of content might force theatres to shut down

January 7, 2022 4:00 pm
Spider-Man: No Way Home

Two weeks ago, the exhibitors were struggling as there were too many films in cinemas and giving each of these films adequate shows was proving to be a headache.

At present, the exhibitors are in a fix as all the major upcoming films like Jersey, RRR, Radhe Shyam and Prithviraj have been postponed.

The Ajith Kumar-starrer Valimai hasn’t been officially pushed ahead but strong reports suggest that it won’t make it on January 13 in cinemas.

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The government in their states might also lockdown or shut cinemas. But even if the governments don’t shut down cinemas, the lack of content can compel them to down shutters in the next few weeks.

This week and the coming week will not be a problem as the holdover films like Spider-Man: No Way Home and Pushpa are getting decent footfalls.

A few properties are also happily playing 83 alongside these two films.

The Delhi government was the first one to shut down cinemas, on December 28.

Soon, Haryana decided to shut cinemas in five districts with a high number of cases. Bihar, meanwhile, has also asked cinemas to shut shop.

In many states like Punjab, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan etc., a night curfew has been imposed and cinemas are asked to operate at 50% occupancy.

In Gujarat, 100% occupancy is allowed but night curfew is in place in 8 major cities. In Uttar Pradesh, the 50% occupancy rule has been enforced in districts with more than 1,000 active cases.

Tamil Nadu has asked cinemas to allow 50% occupancy and as per the latest directive, it’ll have a lockdown on Sunday.

Karnataka, meanwhile, has decided to go for a weekend curfew and on weekdays, cinemas can function at 50%.

The crucial state of Maharashtra, however, has still allowed cinemas to function till late night, although a 50% rule is in place since the time theatres reopened on October 22, 2021. But, with cases rising exponentially in Mumbai and other areas, the industry feels that it’s only a matter of time before further restrictions will be imposed.

Shockingly, the closing down of a cinema due to lack of content has already started. Gaiety cinema, one of the 7 theatres in G7 multiplex in Mumbai, has been temporarily shut down. Gaiety along with Gossip was playing 83 with 4 shows each. Now, only the 100-seater Gossip is playing the cricket saga.

Manoj Desai, executive director, G7 multiplex and Maratha Mandir Cinema said, “We’ll start shutting our theatres if we don’t get content.

I have already shut Gaiety, where 83 was playing. Jersey, Radhe Shyam, RRR and Prithviraj have been postponed.

Till how long can we play these holdover films?”

Akshaye Rathi, film exhibitor and distributor told this writer, “Irrespective of whether we remain open or not, the lack of content will ensure many of them will shut down temporarily.

Till Pushpa and Spider-Man are collecting well, theatres should be kept open. The day the businesses of these films nosedive, it is a smarter idea to proactively shut down.”

The picture is similar in West Bengal and surrounding states. Satadeep Saha, CEO of SSR Cinemas Pvt Ltd, said, “The Bengali film, Tonic, was doing well. Now, we have no other film lined up.

So, content will be an issue for us. Right now, not even one producer will be willing to take a risk and release their film in these uncertain times.

At any time, the state government can impose a lockdown. Tonic was doing fantastic business but after the night curfew was imposed and the fear began to spread, the footfalls led to a massive drop. All the upcoming films got pushed.”

Satadeep continued, “Spider-Man and Pushpa have slowed down. Both these films would have done better had the Omicron not reared its ugly head. We would have no other option (but to shut).

We can’t run the cinema like this. We have overhead expenses. Also, it’s better to shut down. Who’ll go through the headache of deciding what to play and whether viewers would turn up to watch the film?”

He also added, “Had 83 worked, we all would have been sorted for another few weeks.”

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