Maharashtra cinemas all set to open their doors to the audience

A few days ago, the Maharashtra government sent out a circular stating the standard operating procedures for cinema halls in the state. According to the guidelines, theatres can only go up to 50 percent occupancy. Food and beverages will also have to be consumed outside the theatre, and staff and audience above the age of 18 will have to be double vaccinated. Single queue systems and the use of online reservations and payments are being encouraged. Show timings will be staggered to avoid crowding at the theatre premises, too. Despite several limitations, theatre owners are quite excitedly looking forward to welcoming patrons back inside cinema halls.

Kamal Gianchandani, CEO of PVR Pictures and also the head of the Multiplex Association of India, says, “Cinemas have been prepared for a very long time to open their doors to patrons in Maharashtra. In fact, we have been operational in more or less every part of the country since July this year. Thanks to the vaccinations, the public sentiment of fear and uncertainty is wearing out really fast.” While talking about the demand for outdoor entertainment, he adds, “There’s increased positivity in the business. If you look at the recent businesses by films like Honsla Rakh (Punjabi) and Doctor (Telugu), you’ll realise that the business is looking up and it is likely to exceed expectations. We’re actually bracing for a busy and rocking winter this year.”

Akshaye Rathi, director, Saroj Screens Pvt Ltd, believes that the business is experiencing a mix of excitement, caution and nervousness. While content makers have announced dates for some big-ticket ventures to release, others are still opting for a wait-and-watch policy. “After a long spell, and with all that the central and state governments and healthcare workers have done, it looks like the business might soon go back to the old normal. After Sooryavanshi releases on Diwali, there’s a queue of films like Eternals, Bunty Aur Babli 2, Pushpa, RRRGangubai KathiawadiLaal Singh Chaddha, 83, Jersey, and so on. The audience will be spoilt for choice when they start catching up with movies at theatres. The SOPs issued by the state government are similar to the rest of the country, but we do believe that they will be liberalised with time.”


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