Credits: Silverscreen Media Library

After being shutdown for around six months, theatre owners in Kerala are hoping to resume operations by the end of September, provided Covid-19 cases show a decreasing trend, said K Vijayakumar, President of the Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK).

He also confirmed that a deal has been signed with the producers of the Mohanlal-starrer Marakkar: Arabaikadalinte Simham for a three-week exclusive theatre run. While Marakkar’s producers had earlier sought an exclusive run for their film, this is the first confirmation of an official deal for the same.

However, the release date of the film has not been decided yet.

Speaking to Silverscreen India, Vijayakumar said that during a meeting with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Culture Minister Shaji Cheriyan in August, they were assured that the state government would permit the reopening of theatres once the Covid-19 situation in the state improved. “And now, according to health experts, cases in the state are expected to reduce in the coming weeks. The vaccination process too is being ramped up. So, we hope we will be permitted to resume operations by the end of the month,” he added.

It is to be noted that the Kerala government has not made any official announcement regarding the reopening of theatres.

Vijayakumar also mentioned that, if permission is granted to reopen at the end of September as per their expectation, theatre owners are planning to resume operations by screening the James Bond film No Time to Die on September 30. 

“We hope theatres will gradually get back to form during the Pooja holidays in October with the release of some big Malayalam films like Marakkar,” he added.

The FUEOK hopes the government will allow four shows per day with 50% occupancy. Vijayakumar also noted that all theatres are fully ready to reopen as the owners have been regularly doing maintenance work in the interim. He added that they will ensure complete safety for the audience.

Vijayakumar also mentioned that if the pandemic situation gets better in the coming weeks, the FUEOK will meet with the government authorities and ministers to discuss the plan of action. 

On Friday, Kerala recorded 29,322 fresh cases, taking the total number of active Covid-19 cases in the state to 2,46,467. The Test Positivity Rate stands at 17.9%.

Saji Cheriyan, Minister for Culture and Kerala State Film Development Corporation, had earlier said that reopening of theatres in Kerala would only be considered if the Test Positivity Rate falls below 8%.