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Telangana Cinema Halls to Shut Down Due to Lack of New Releases

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Credits: Silverscreen Media Library

Telangana theatre owners and film exhibitors on Tuesday decided to shut down theatres and cinema halls in the state due to the “lack of content” as several Telugu films’ release has been postponed due to surging Covid-19 cases in the state.

Theatre owners, however, denied that the night curfew imposed by the state government, pushed them to take this decision. On Tuesday, the Telangana government passed an order announcing night curfew from 9 pm to 5 am until April 30 due to a “rising trend in Covid-19 cases”.

Speaking to Silverscreen India, Anupam Reddy, owner of Hyderabad’s Sudha Theatres and an executive committee member of the Telangana State Film Chamber of Commerce said, “It is not exactly because of the curfew, it is because of the lack of content since films are not releasing. About six small budget films will release on April 23 [Friday], out of which three have been postponed. So, there is no content for the theatres to run. That is the main reason and in addition, the Covid-19 conditions too. Keeping all this in mind, a few theatres have decided to close.”

He added that theatres have been functioning at full seating capacity.

Due to the surge in Covid-19 cases in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, many Telugu films have postponed their theatrical releases in April. While big-budget films like Nani-starrer Tuck Jagadish, Naga Chaitanya, and Sai Pallavi’s Love Story, and Virata Parvam featuring Rana Daggubati, and small and medium budget films like Ishq, Telangana Devudu and Ek Mini Katha have postponed their release.

After theatres reopened in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh after the Covid-19 induced lockdown in November 2020, several big-budget films including Ravi Teja and Shruti Haasan-starrer Krack, Sai Dharam Tej-starrer Solo Brathuke So Better, Bellamkonda Sreenivas-starrer Alludu Adhurs, Ram Pothineni-starrer Red, were released theatrically. Films such as RRR and Pushpa have been slated to release in theatres later in the year.

“On April 9, Vakeel Saab released and some theatres are still screening it. These theatres will remain open. There are about two-three small budget films that are releasing on Friday. Theatres which have booked those films will be operational. Theatres that had booked the films which postponed their releases will be closed,” Reddy said.

Balgovind Raj Tadla, secretary of Greater Telangana Exhibitors Association, and partner at Sudharshan 35mm and Devi 70mm Theatres in Hyderabad told Silverscreen India, “After night curfew is implemented, we will only be missing the 9 pm show. But that is not the issue, the lack of content is.”

“We took the decision because it is not viable for us to run the theatres. Shutting down will save us some expenses. The audiences are also less in number. We are running in 100% occupancy with no night shows,” he said.

Tadla said that the theatres that are running Vakeel Saab will continue to run despite incurring losses.

“However, if there is any producer willing to release the film, we will continue to run theatres,” he said.

Vijay Kumar of BVK Multiplex in Hyderabad said that theatres have been performing poorly with barely 20-30 tickets being sold on a daily basis. “We cannot cover the maintenance charges, and further releases are also postponed, so we have taken this decision,” he said.

Gopal Reddy, owner of Ranga 70mm single screen theatre in Hyderabad, said that exhibitors and theatre owners plan to reopen theatres by May 13, only if the situation returns to normal.

According to Tadla, most of the theatres will stop functioning from April 23.

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have been witnessing a spike in positive cases. While Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, the state recorded 5,926 positive cases on the same day, according to the state government’s medical bulletin. Andhra Pradesh, recorded 8,987 positive cases on Tuesday.

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