On Thursday, popular multiplex chain PVR Cinemas announced the opening of its 9-screen multiplex at One Galle Face Mall, Colombo, Sri Lanka. While the multiplex chain spans India and Sri Lanka, screens have been opened up only in Sri Lanka owing to the efficient handling of the Coronavirus crisis by the country. They have reportedly managed to contain the infection since the beginning of June and have recorded only a little over 2,000 cases in total, with a good recovery rate and low death rate.
With schools and other public facilities opening up, malls and theatres have now slowly begun operations with PVR Cinemas emerging first to open up its cinemas. The list of Indian and Hollywood films that are being screened include, Tiger Shroff‘s Baaghi 3, Vikram Prabhu‘s Asuraguru, Akshay Kumar‘s Good Newwz, Dwayne Johnson’s Jumanji, Vin Diesel’s Bloodshot, and Will Smith’s Bad Boys For Life. A Sinhalese film, The Newspaper, is also screening.
— taran adarsh (@taran_adarsh) July 2, 2020
Recently, the chain had also released a video demonstrating how they will be functioning with contactless booking and payments, frequent sanitisation of screens, counters, and washrooms and provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits and temperature checks at all entry and exit points of the cinema. The safety rules and protocols were laid down by the Multiplex Association of India (MAI) in May.
Meanwhile, the Multiplex Association of India (MAI) has written a letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs requesting the opening up of cinemas in India too. The letter stated that the MAI is disappointed with cinemas and multiplexes being listed as one of the prohibited activities under the Central Government’s Unlock 2.0 Guidelines, given the fact that it feeds several stakeholders and workers who serve as the backbone of the film industry.
It also added that cinemas and multiplexes can serve as perfect examples to demonstrate to the public how social distancing guidelines and crowd control can be best exercised in a safe and planned manner. “As compared to the unorganised retail and shops that have been opened up multiplexes and cinemas are part of the organised sector, playing hosts to ‘revenue paying’ customers only and hence, in a better position to limit crowds unlike marketplaces and deploy all the mechanisms and guidelines for crowd control and social distancing,” read the statement.
Though they do not expect proper functioning of the cinemas for about three to six months, they believe that the opening up would mobilise funds and gradually pave way for normalcy. “An early decision to allow cinemas to open will only help the mobilisation of resources in the film industry’s ecosystem and would lead to a gradual resurrection. In fact, even after opening up, we anticipate at least three to six months before things return anywhere close to normal. On one hand where programming of new content will take some time to kick in; movie buffs on the other hand are expected to take a cautious approach before returning to cinemas. These are real challenges that industry will have to overcome and we believe with the support of the government we will be able to overcome them,” said the statement.
“Globally, countries like France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Austria, Hong Kong, UAE, US, etc, and more recently Belgium and Malaysia have opened cinemas to the public with the implementation of the highest degree of safety protocols and have seen a warm response by audiences. In effect, more than 20 major cinema markets around the world have started operating. MAI is of the firm belief that there must be a start and the unlocking of cinemas in non-containment zones across India should be done post haste – there must be a beginning and an opportunity must be given to us, just like some of the other sectors,” added the statement.
— taran adarsh (@taran_adarsh) July 2, 2020
Recently, the MAI and popular multiplex chains PVR Cinemas, Inox, and Carnival Cinemas had expressed dissatisfaction at how producers were opting for direct digital releases bypassing the designated theatrical window. In spite of these statements, several Indian producers have gone ahead and taken to OTT platforms for exhibiting their films, including Fox Star Studios, Ajay Devgn Films, and Vishesh Films.