Tamil Nadu

More cinemas to reopen this week

Slow return: Theatre owners are doubtful of the return of audiences and fear a third wave of COVID-19.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Around 30% of the cinemas across Tamil Nadu, including multiplexes, will open their screens to patrons on Thursday and Friday. Only 20% of the theatres opened on August 23, from when the government allowed cinemas to reopen. Industry sources say the remaining 50% of the cinemas, especially in rural areas, will reopen only after new Tamil films are released or during Vinayaka Chaturti.

A source at a cinema in Madurai, who has decided to wait until September, said, “The market here is different. People prefer more Tamil films. So, I have decided to wait until the first week of September. The news about the third wave is all around social media, so we are very cautious.” But Abishek Eashwaran, partner, Priya Complex, Madurai, said he would open one of the screens on Friday with The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It.

In Coimbatore, exhibitors would begin with The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It and Bell Bottom (Hindi). Even in this zone, a few are in a wait-and-watch mode.

The biggest fear is whether audiences will return and whether they will have to face the third wave of COVID-19, thus incurring more losses. Even when they were closed, the theatres had to spend a huge sum on maintenance. Some of them had to spend ₹5 lakh-₹10 lakh a month on safeguarding projectors, seats and other electronic items.

Archana Kalpathi, CEO, AGS Cinemas, which started the shows on August 23, said business was good, especially at the property on G.N. Chetty Road, T. Nagar. “We opened up only one screen here, and looking at the response, we opened up another,” she said. On day one, the morning shows saw 15% occupancy and the evening shows had 20%. The rate was gradually increasing every day, she noted.

Udeep B, Managing Director of Mayajaal, said, “We are opening with seven films this weekend across English, Hindi and Telugu. “As the rest of the world cinema theatres are seeing 50%-60% of the pre-pandemic number. We are confident too.”

PVR Cinemas, which has a portfolio of 83 screens at 13 properties in Chennai, Vellore and Coimbatore, reopens on Thursday. The group will release Hollywood content such as The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, Nobody and Promising Young Woman, and Bell Bottom that was released on August 19 in States where theatres have been reopened.

Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Limited, said, “We welcome our customers back to the real cinema experience as we reopen in the State of Tamil Nadu after this long wait. Opening of Tamil Nadu is especially significant as part of our southern India circuit.”

“We are not opening our theatres now,” said ‘Rohini’ Panneerselvam, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Theatre and Multiplex Owners’ Association. When asked for an overview of the market, he said, “20% of the theatres have opened, 40% will open this weekend, and the rest in the coming days.” He said the patrons would take time but would surely return to the big screen.

Tamil Nadu has 1,213 screens, with more than 6.36 lakh seats. A one-day closure of all theatres will lead to an average loss of ₹8 crore.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 2:56:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/more-cinemas-to-reopen-this-week/article36109468.ece

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