The Kerala Film Chamber on Wednesday decided against reopening single screen theatres in the state until their demands of seeking exemption from entertainment tax and extension of show timings are met.
The decision was taken after a meeting convened by the Kerala Film Chamber, that was attended by producers, distributors and exhibitors in Kochi on Wednesday.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced on January 1 that cinemas in the state can reopen from January 5, with 50% seating capacity and proper regulations in place.
None of the cinema halls, however, reopened on January 5. After the meeting on Wednesday, cinema halls are expected to remain shut until the state government announces a relief package for the industry.
K Vijayakumar, president of the Kerala Film Chamner, said at a press meet after the meeting, “It is very difficult to revive theatres that have remained shut for nearly 10 months and have paid fixed electricity charges, building tax among other charges, without a financial package or financial aid from the government.”
As per Cover Fox, entertainment tax in Kerala stands at 30%, along with the Goods and Services Tax of 28%. The former comes under the purview of state governments.
“We did some calculations of the revenue we would earn under the current situation and have come to the conclusion that running theatres is not viable. Theatres that will reopen will, in fact, incur more losses than theatres that remain closed, as per our calculations. Until there is a solution to all our demands, we are currently not planning to open theatres. This is the Kerala Film Chamber’s decision,” Vijayakumar said.
George, whose Anand theatre in Kottayam is shut for over nine months now, told Silverscreen India, “There has been no income and only expenses, but we are still paying the minimum electricity charges. So, we are asking for a reduction in that and I think they will consider it.”
While some other states reopened cinemas with 50% seating capacity from October 15, 2020, Kerala did not permit the same due to increasing cases of Covid-19.
“At 50% capacity, with show times between 9 am and 9 pm only, which results in two or three shows in a day, theatres cannot run and producers cannot release their films,” George said.
“Mostly, people come for late night shows. So, if we shut at 9 (p.m.) then I don’t think we will be able to run beyond the second show. But if there is no other option, then we will have to,” George said.
President of the Kerala Film Producer’s Association Rejaputhra Renjith said during the press meet that out of the 102 Malayalam films awaiting release, five had taken the OTT route- Kappela, Halal Love Story, C U Soon, Maniyarayile Ashokan, and Sufiyum Sujatayum.