Kerala film exhibitors uncertain about reopening as test positivity rate rises

Cinemas in Kerala affiliated to the Kerala Film Exhibitors Federation remained closed to press its demands. A poster urging people to support the strike is placed in front of a closed theatre complex in Kochi.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

The rising test positivity rate (TPR) has almost doused the hopes of film exhibitors in Kerala to resume screening ahead of the Onam festival.

Filmmaker Priyadarshan’s multi-crore Mohanlal-starrer ‘Marakkar:Arabikadalinte Simham’ was expected to bring some cheer to the crisis-hit Malayalam film industry after it was scheduling for release on August 12.

The exhibitors and the producers had also agreed on providing an exclusive single run for the movie in around 600 cinemas for three weeks to revive the fortunes of the industry by going for a major release. However, the current pandemic situation has played spoilsport as exhibitors remain uncertain on when they would be able to re-start operations.

“Going by the current TPR of above 13% and the increase in deaths, we are doubtful about our earlier plans to resume screening while coinciding with the Onam festival,” said K. Vijayakumar, president of the Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK).

“There is no point in demanding the reopening of theatres as people would be hesitant to turn up in view of the present COVID-19 situation. We were hopeful when the TPR had come down to 10%, but the situation seems to have turned worse again,” he said.

The financial crisis induced by the pandemic has worsened after the second wave, according to the estimates by the exhibitors. “At least 10 to 12 theatre owners in the State have dropped their plans to renovate their cinemas. Many feel that the theatre business has hit an all-time low owing to the COVID-19,” said Mr. Vijayakumar.

The exhibitors recalled that the government agencies continued to charge various taxes and fixed charges on electricity despite repeated requests from the trade bodies in the industry for a relief package.

"In the second wave, the only relief extended was the 50% reduction in the fixed electricity charges in May. The local bodies are issuing notices asking to pay up building tax and for renewal of building license without realising that the cinemas have been shut for long,” they said.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Sep 29, 2021 3:30:36 AM |

Next Story