Cinemas reopening: theatre owners expecting aid from State

With Minister for Cultural Affairs Saji Cherian making clear the State government’s intent to reopen cinemas in the next phase of relaxations to COVID-19 restrictions, cinema theatre owners in the State are hoping for an effective financial package to help them restart after an extended period of closure and mounting losses.

One of the major demands now being put forward by the Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK) is for the levying ₹5 service charge on each of the tickets sold, to enable the exhibitors to cover the expenses of running theatres as per the COVID-19 protocol.

“To run the theatres as per the protocols, we need to ensure that each seat is sanitised and cleaned after the show. The entire theatre has to be sanitised several times during the day. For allowing in each person, we have to carry out checks of their temperature and on whether they have vaccinated. The theatre owners will have to incur expenses for these, which will have to be covered some way to make meagre profits,” FEUOK president K. Vijayakumar told The Hindu.

The exhibitors have also demanded a financial package to help the theatres restart. According to Mr. Vijayakumar, the owners will have to spend a minimum of ₹5 lakh to get each screen readied for screening. After the first wave of COVID-19 too, the owners had spent similar amounts to ready the theatres for reopening. Some of them had spent higher amounts for a thorough revamp, but ended up with debts after the theatres closed again.

Even when the theatres had remained closed, around three employees have been working in each theatre to run the projectors, generators and air conditioning system for sometime everyday, to ensure that these remain working. As of now, the owners are ready to go ahead with the probable condition of 50% occupancy that will be stipulated by the government for reopening the theatres. Before the second wave hit, the organisations had insisted on permission to run the theatres at full occupancy, to ensure adequate profits.

The FEUOK had also demanded last month that the entertainment tax, which was announced by the government to compensate the local bodies for the losses incurred after the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), be completely withdrawn. The State government had in January decided to waive entertainment tax from January to March.

“The Chief Minister had assured us that all possible help will be provided to help the sector, which has been reeling under the pandemic. We are hopeful of a favourable response,” said Mr.Vijayakumar.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 5:40:44 PM |

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