Andhra Pradesh

Is it curtains for cinemas in Visakhapatnam?

A view of the Sangam Sarat theatre complex in Visakhapatnam.

A view of the Sangam Sarat theatre complex in Visakhapatnam.   | Photo Credit: C.V. Subrahmanyam

Managements are hoping for tax cuts to recover mounting losses

It is curtains, albeit temporarily, for the theatres since the imposition of lockdown in the wake of the outbreak of coronavirus. Generally, summer brings a windfall for cinema halls as they witness heavy rush during the season.

But, this year, it is coming to an end on a gloomy note bringing tears to the theatre fraternity. The managements are at their wits’ end as a bleak future stares at them even after lifting of the lockdown.

Going to the theatre has been the favourite pastime of students not only for entertainment but also to escape the summer heat. The theatres witness the maximum rush in April and May. But, this year the managements have lost their summer revenue and many wonder whether they would be able to recoup the loss.

This is because even after they are allowed to reopen, several restrictions like social distancing’ and sanitisation after every show. and other COVID-19 guidelines will cause a huge dent in their revenues.

“We have to forego one seat for every three seats and sanitisation has to be done after each and every show. Film goers will buy tickets at higher cost, only if the film stars big heroes. We have never seen such a crisis in the industry in the past,” Prasad Reddy, Manager of Sangam Sarat theatres, told The Hindu.

The two theatres provide employment to 45 persons and the salary bill crosses ₹3.5 lakh. Despite the lockdown, the big theatres are getting average power bill of ₹1.31 lakh and the small ones are getting ₹80,000 a month. The projector has to be operated for about an hour every day.

“We are unable to fathom the impact of the lockdown on the industry. Those, who were not watching TV earlier, are now getting addicted to it to beat the lockdown blues. Our association is seeking waiver of municipal taxes and permission to hike ticket prices to tide over the losses to some extent but we are yet to hear from the government on our demands,” says J. Madan, president of Visakhapatnam Cinema Exhibitors Association.

“We are incurring a monthly expenditure of ₹2.5 lakh on maintenance of the projectors, sound systems and AC plants. We also have to support 70 staff though there is no revenue during the last two months,” says Jagadish Kumar, proprietor of Jagadamba theatre complex, which houses three theatres.

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Printable version | Jul 9, 2020 5:18:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/is-it-curtains-for-cinemas-in-visakhapatnam/article31626645.ece

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