Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu will both allow film theatres to reopen after months of being shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the states announced separately, per reports in The Hindu and Mint. Theatres in Maharashtra can open starting Wednesday and in Tamil Nadu starting from November 10. Bollywood and Kollywood are some of India’s largest film industries, and theatres reopening in their home turf is a significant development, as COVID-19 cases in both states remain high, and dozens of daily deaths are recorded in both states.
Both states will reportedly subject cinema halls to restrictions on food inside cinema halls and will limit occupancy to 50%. This essentially means that ticket prices are likely to be high as theatres’ business models rely significantly on concession stands selling snacks and beverages. Cinemas may also demand longer theatrical windows going forward, to make more money from each film, as revenue per footfall is likely to be diminished. In any case, open theatres with many conditions are still better for cinema owners than completely shut theatres.
INOX and PVR have announced a slew of sanitary protocols on top of the government’s rules in an attempt to lure a potentially wary public back into theatres. Experiences of theatres in West Bengal reported by the Times of India have shown promise, but are not spectacular. Theatres in the state, which were allowed to reopen starting in October, have had middling revenue in the ongoing festival season.