The chances of a steady release of new Malayalam films hitting the big screen remain unlikely despite the government permitting reopening of cinemas with 50% occupancy from January 5 onwards.
An initial assessment by the Kerala Film Producers' Association (KFPA) revealed that the big-budget movies will reach theatres only in April.
“Even the producers of small budget movies are hesitant to release their works now considering the fact that only half of the seats will be occupied in a show. They are expecting an increase in footfall after the government permits further relaxations following the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine,” said M. Renjith, president of the association.
As per the estimates by the KFPA, nearly 80 movies have completed censor formalities since March while the pre-and-post production of another 40 movies was progressing. Forty-two movies were released between January and March last year.
The theatre owners are meeting on Tuesday amidst apprehensions over screening movies with 50% occupancy.
“We hope that the government would accept our request to reduce the tax burden on tickets and also waive off the fixed electricity charges for the period in which the theatres had remained closed,” said M. C Bobby, general secretary of the Film Exhibitors' United Organisation of Kerala. The exhibitors pointed out that their overhead expenses would go up in the wake of a low audience turnout even with the permitted 50% occupancy level.
K. Vijayakumar, president of the Kerala Film Chamber, said that a joint meeting of the film trade bodies will be held on Wednesday to discuss the way forward following the government decision to open cinemas with restricted audience from Tuesday.
“The possibilities of theatres reopening on January 5 stand remote as we have to bring clarity on various issues, which will be discussed at the meeting,” he said.
The Film Chamber had urged the government to announce a relief package for the Malayalam film industry in view of the financial crisis induced by the pandemic crisis.