The film’s revised release date comes after the Kerala government’s order on Monday allowing theatres to function from 12 pm to 12 am, thereby allowing second and late-night shows.
The Priest was supposed to hit the screens on March 4 but was postponed due to the Kerala government’s previous instructions to theatres and cinema halls to run shows only between 9 am and 9 pm. The makers had cited the lack of second shows and postponed the film’s release.
The Priest is Jofin T Chacko’s directorial debut. He has also written the film, which is produced by Anto Joseph, Unnikrishnan B, and VN Babu. The film co-stars Manju Warrier and marks her maiden collaboration with Mammootty.
— Anto Joseph (@IamAntoJoseph) March 8, 2021
According to the government order, it read, “The currently permitted time of operations for theatres is from 9 am to 9 pm. This timing does not permit the screening of second shows and this is making it impossible for theatres to run their business successfully. The Kerala Film Exhibitor’s United Organisation of Kerala had requested that this may be taken into consideration and the timings may be revised to permit screening of second shows like in other states. After due consideration of this matter in the State Covid Core Group Meeting, the government is issuing the order to change the permitted working timings of theatres to 12 noon to 12 midnight under the condition that all Covid protocols will be adhered to without fail.” (Translated from Malayalam)
Speaking to Silverscreen India, Suresh Shenoy, the owner of Shenoys Theatre in Kochi and Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala treasurer, said, “The timings earlier given was 9 am to 9 pm which was ineffective. We lost the time between 9 am-12 pm to run a show. Now, this new 12 am to 12 pm is very good and ideal timing. We would not be missing on second or late-night shows. The new timings will bring family audience too. We will be able to screen four shows and will increase the theatre collection.”
He said that the timings will be implemented from Tuesday. However, Shenoy pointed out that the theatre occupancy is still capped at 50%.
Speaking about the relief measures and waiving off the Entertainment Tax and Fixed Electricity Charges that theatre owners had previously requested from the state government, Shenoy said, “The request was for total waiver of Entertainment Tax. They have waived it only till March 31, 2021. Along with the request for second shows, we had made two more requests. We wanted Entertainment Tax to be waived up to March 31, 2022, and increase occupancy to 100%.”
Asked if the other requests were being considered by the Kerala government, Shenoy said, “I strongly believe that they will consider it. So far, there have been no announcements regarding it. But we are in constant touch with the government to get these two requests also to be implemented.”
Shenoy said that the meeting, that was held between the government and theatre owners on March 6, happened after a request was sent to the Chief Minister and Chief Secretary to consider changing the timings.
“Other concerns were also raised when the Chief Secretary said that they are under consideration and that only the issue of timings will be implemented this time,” he said.
The Priest is one of the first big-budget Malayalam films to release in theatres in Kerala after the Covid-19 induced lockdown. The film’s technical crew consists of screenplay and dialogues written by Deepu Pradeep and Shyam Menon. The cinematographer is Akhil George and the editor is Shameer Muhammed. Rahul Raj has composed the music and Hari Narayanan is the lyricist.