The central government on Saturday lifted the 50% cap on seating in cinemas, which had been in effect since mid-October when the screens were first allowed to screen movies post the lockdown.
The pandemic has hit the industry hard with shoots cancelled and release dates pushed several times. Filmmakers were worried that even after opening of multiplexes, it will take some time for audiences to come back to the theatres, until the Covid-19 threat is contained.
Various industry bodies estimate the total loss to the industry during the lockdown at Rs 1,000-1,500 crore a month. Cinema industry executives said for the revival of the industry — one of the worst affected sectors — relaxation of the seating restriction was a vital prerequisite.
“This would ease the apprehensions in the minds of content producers and studios, who may now announce the release dates of their movies,” said Alok Tandon, CEO, INOX Leisure. “We now look forward to the state governments to provide us clarity on implementation of revised guidelines.”
While issuing the new standard operating procudures for cinema halls, the ministry of information & broadcasting (MIB) on Saturday clarified that states and union territories could consider proposing additional measures as per their field assessment. However, exhibition of film will not be allowed in containment zones.
CEO Gautam Dutta said this was welcome news finally, which would give a much-needed boost to the multiplex industry. “India has done well to control the Covid-19 spread along with the large scale roll out of vaccination. This move would give confidence to the producers to release their much-awaited films and audiences to return to the cinemas to watch their choicest movies in the company of their loved ones,” Dutta said.
With the announcement, now filmmakers are also gearing up to release long-pending films.