The Kerala government on Monday ordered all theatres and malls in the state to close by 7:30 pm and has imposed night curfew from 9 pm to 5 am for the next two weeks to curb the sudden spike in Covid-19 cases in the state.
Following the announcement, the Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK) held a virtual meeting with theatre owners on Tuesday.
Speaking to Silverscreen India, FEUOK general secretary Sumesh Joseph Manarkattu said, “During the meeting, some of the owners expressed their interest to continue running the shows while some wanted to close the theatres. So we let them decide on the same. However, we have strictly instructed them to rearrange show timings as the government has ordered to close the screens by 7:30 pm and follow the Covid protocols.”
There are 600 theatres in Kerala, including multiplex and single screens. Currently, Nizhal, Nayattu, Chathur Mukham, Anugraheethan Antony and One are running in theatres. According to some theatre owners based in Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, and Kozhikode, matinee shows had been getting a good collection.
Sumesh said that though the films were faring well, theatres in small towns were getting fewer audiences.
“Footfall in the other theatres will gradually reduce by the weekend and will eventually stop,” he said.
Asked about the releases lined up for May on the occasion of Eid, Sumesh said, ” It would be a great relief if big movies such as Marakkar Arabikkadalinte Simhan and Malik would release as planned. However, considering the Covid situation, everything is uncertain and no official announcement has been made by the producers regarding the release dates so far.”
Theatres in the state, which were shut for nine months in 2020 due to the pandemic-induced lockdown, reopened on January 13 with the Tamil film Master. To help theatre owners recover from the losses incurred during lockdown, the Kerala government had announced a waiver of entertainment tax for cinemas from January to March 2021 and assured to reduce 50% of the fixed charges on electricity.
Meanwhile, a meeting has been scheduled by the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce, the apex body of the Malayalam film industry, on April 28 with producers, theatre owners and other stakeholders to discuss the possibility of early OTT release of films running in theatres.
Kerala reported 19,577 positive cases and 28 deaths on Tuesday. While the total active cases rose to 1,18,673, the state’s Covid-19 positivity rate stands at 17.45%.