After eight months of Coronavirus pandemic, theatres in Tamilnadu opened yesterday. Theaters across the country were closed on March 17 due to the spread of the corona infection. The government recently announced a relaxation and allowed theaters to open. But with the pandemic still not over, how safe are the cinemas? We went on a theatre trail across the city to find out.
Theaters have been undergoing clean-up operations for the past few days as the government has announced stricter regulations to open theaters. Seven months later, theaters across Tamil Nadu reopened yesterday. The government gave permission to open cinema halls from 10 November with 50% occupancy and instructed to follow the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
There are a total of 1,140 theaters across Tamil Nadu. Most of these multiplex theaters and many of the separate theaters opened yesterday. Some theaters have not been open since Tuesday due to sentiment and prolonged problems with the release of new films.
Despite all these precautionary measures, the theaters are not full. Quarter seats are packed only in multi plugs. Moviegoers are hopeful that this will change when new films are released. Theatres say that seats will be sanitised after every screening. Some are also going to sanitise the lobby as well. The junk seats were also replaced. There is a stipulation that theaters with 50% seats must operate, with a ribbon tied between the two seats and a seat block. Ticket bookings have been going on for two days.
Various corona-preventive guidelines such as spraying germicides in the theatre, fixing stickers leaving alternative seats vacant, setting up indication marks in the ticket counters to adhere to the social distancing norm, etc., have been taken up.
Quite surprisingly, Tamil Film Active Producers Association (TFAPA), announced that there will be no new Tamil movie releases until the Virtual Print Fee (VPF) charges demanded by digital service providers are taken care of by the theatre owners. So the multiplexes have decided to play the old hit movies. For the first time in the history of Tamil cinema, there are no new releases this festive season in theatres. Oh My Kadavule, Kannum Kannum Kollayadithaal, Dharala Prabhu, Bigil, Bheeshma, Iruttu Araiyil Morattu Kuthu, Joker, and My Spy are being re-released. This Deepavali, movies like Suriya’s Soorarai Pottru, RJ Balaji-Nayanthara’s Mookuthi Amman will be out on OTT.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has brought cinema production and distribution to a grinding halt. As different industries are slowly resuming business, Qube believes that it is imperative that all stakeholders in the industry support each other during the revival.” Only charges for logistics of content delivery and key management, both for DCI and E-Cinema content, will be applicable, they said. However, with no releases, the crowd in theatres has been minimal.
Qube has announced a 100% waiver of Virtual Print Fee (VPF) for November 2020 for all filmmakers to help release new movies post lockdown. Qube believes that all stakeholders in the industry must support each other during the revival. They have taken this important decision considering the Diwali festival, which falls on November 14. They also hope to see audiences celebrating in style back at the theaters, and wish everyone a prosperous Diwali.
— TFPC pr news (@TFPCprnews) November 10, 2020
This decision of Qube has brought smiles among the theater owners and audiences who have been waiting to see a new release in theaters for a long time.