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Kerala Cinema Halls to Reopen After 9 Months After State Govt Announces Relief Package

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Theatres in Kerala will finally reopen on Wednesday with Vijay‘s upcoming Tamil film Master. The decision comes after the Kerala government on Monday exempted cinema halls in the state from paying entertainment tax for the three-month period between January and March, while fixed electricity charges have been reduced by 50% for the 10 months that the theatres remained closed.

The deadlines for renewal of various licenses were also extended on Monday.

On Monday, representatives of the Kerala Film Chamber, the Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK), Kerala Film Producers’ Association among other film bodies held a meeting with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, after which relief measures were announced by the state government.

MC Bobby, secretary, FEUOK told Silverscreen India that theatres will reopen on Wednesday with 50% occupancy, after the state government announced tax waivers.
“The first film that will be screened across theatres in Kerala is Vijay’s Master. Bookings for the film have already started and have shown a positive trend so far. In my theatre, bookings for Master on Wednesday are almost full,” Bobby said.

On January 6, the Kerala Film Chamber decided against reopening single-screen theatres in the state until their demands- waiving the entertainment tax and fixed electricity charges for the time the theatres remained shut, extending the validity of licenses, extending show timings- were met. The Kerala government gave its nod for theatres in the state to reopen from January 5. Theatre owners, however, kept their establishments shut, awaiting government aid.

“It’s a very good concession given by our government and we welcome it. The entertainment tax has been relaxed and the fixed charges of electricity have been reduced by 50%. While the timing hasn’t been changed and it still is from 9 am to 9 pm. So, whatever we asked for that has been given by the government and we are grateful for that,” Suresh Shenoy, owner of Shenoys Theatre in Kochi, told Silverscreen India.

Along with Shenoy Theatre, Maharani Theatre in Pala is also set to open on January 13 with Vijay’s Master. The theatre’s owner, Sumesh, told Silverscreen India, “We had mainly asked for entertainment tax relaxation and our chief minister has done that. The majority of our theatre owners licenses had gotten cancelled too due to 11 months of inactivity, he has given us the assurance that no local body people will come and harass us for expired license and it will be renewed till the end of March 2021. Another major demand was a reduction in electricity charges and he has helped us with that as well. We are very happy with his declaration.”

Talking about the 50% occupancy, Sumesh said it would have been better to have the full capacity as it would “fetch a lot of money” with the release of Master. However, he says the theatre body is currently content with opening their halls at 50% capacity.

The entertainment tax, which comes under the purview of state governments, currently stands at 30% in Kerala according to Cover Fox, in addition to the Goods and Services Tax of 28%.

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