The Tamil Nadu government’s decision, to allow cinema halls to reopen from November 10, has come as a big relief for theatre owners in the state. After an eight-month lull, they are hopeful that business will pick up soon.
“There is a long way to go but this is a good start,” said Ruban Mathivanan, managing partner, GK Cinemas, Chennai.
Despite many theatre owners welcoming the government’s decision, they note that the coming months will still pose a challenge.
“We are so happy about this decision. These last eight months have been difficult. We had to pay salaries and electricity bills from our pockets. For the next six months, we will not make profits but we will at least be able to break even,” said Tirupur Subramaniam, president of the Tamil Nadu Theatre and Multiplex Owners Association.
What a relief this is 😇😇 #TheatresareBack
— Ruban Mathivanan (@GKcinemas) October 31, 2020
With the reopening date coinciding with the Diwali weekend, theatre owners are hopeful of producers deciding to release new films. “We may have some medium-budget films. The decision will be made by the producers and distributors. They are going to take a week’s time to decide,” said Ganesh, owner of Kamala Cinemas.
While there is a hope that big-budget films, like Vijay’s Master and Dhanush’s Jagame Thandhiram, might be released soon; theatre owners are expecting films, such as Irandam Kuththu and MGR Magan, to be released on Diwali weekend.
“New movies won’t be released on November 10. We have to screen old movies for that time period and on Diwali weekend, we can expect new films to release,” said Tirupur.
— AGS Cinemas (@agscinemas) October 31, 2020
Since theatres have already reopened in other states, theatre owners in Tamil Nadu have taken note of the patterns that have emerged with respect to viewership.
“As we saw in other states, when they opened up the footfall was good initially but later it reduced because of no new content. People are expecting new content,” GK Cinema’s Mathivanan said.
However, theatre owners have decided to speak to producers and distributors to get a list of films that they can screen in the absence of new films. Films such as Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal, Darbar may be re-released to attract the audience.
As theatres are looking to open their doors, they have adopted a slew of measures that were recommended by the Central government. Even while theatres were shut, they had protocols in place. “In the last eight months, we have been sanitising and cleaning every day. About 10% of the staff have been coming in every day to do that,” Ganesh said.
Wearing masks, availability of packaged food, and social distancing will be followed once theatres reopen. “Food will be packed and all of us will be wearing masks and gloves,” he added.