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Friday, October 30, 2020

First day, first show: Movie halls open doors — with abundant caution

The three films to be screened at the hall initially are Thappad, 1917 and Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan. Only two out of their six halls will be open.

Written by Ashna Butani , Ananya Tiwari , Ektaa Malik | New Delhi | Updated: October 15, 2020 12:29:59 pm
Delhi movie halls, Delhi cinemas, Delhi news, Delhi coronavirus, cinema theatres open, cinema halls, unlock 5.0, indian expressOn Wednesday afternoon, the staff carried out thorough cleaning and markings for social distancing were stuck on the floor. The menu has been limited to popcorn, nachos and soft drinks.

As theatres gear up to reopen to the public for the first time since the lockdown was imposed in March, distanced seating, contactless payments, single-use of 3D glasses, social distancing markers, staggered exits and several other precautionary measures will be enforced in cinemas from Thursday. With three films, alternate seating arrangements, sanitisation points and thermal checks in place, Cinepolis at DLF Avenue said it is ready to give cinegoers a contactless experience from October 15.

On Wednesday afternoon, the staff carried out thorough cleaning and markings for social distancing were stuck on the floor. The menu has been limited to popcorn, nachos and soft drinks. Around 50 per cent of the staff will be on duty at one time, and the employees said they will be wearing masks, gloves and face shields on duty.

Arpit Srivastava, assistant manager of the cinema, said, “The staff will not serve food in the halls as we want to make everything contactless. Further, food will be served on caddy trays, which customers can pick up from the counters. We are encouraging cashless transactions. In case someone uses a card or cash, we will sanitise it.”

He added movies that were released before the lockdown will be screened since there are not many new films. “Since cinema halls in Mumbai were not open, there are hardly any new films. We expect to attract a small crowd initially.”

The three films to be screened at the hall initially are Thappad, 1917 and Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan. Only two out of their six halls will be open. The staff said no bookings have been made yet since the announcement was made recently. However, those shopping in the malls made enquiries about it.

At PVR cinemas, among other measures to be enforced are distanced seating, with one seat gap in normal auditoriums, extended intermissions to avoid crowding, staggered exits, QR code booking, markers at a distance of at least 1 metre, no pat down searches, advanced sanitisation, sterilisation of premises and seats multiple times a day, and PPE kits for staff.

Providing an update on the implementation of the guidelines, ticket aggregator BookMyShow said it has launched a ‘Safety First’ feature. “The new feature is a ‘safety shield tag’, which informs the audience of the various levels of safety and hygiene measures implemented across different cinemas that are listed on BookMyShow,” said Ashish Saksena, COO, BookMyShow.

The feature will give information across parameters like in-cinema seat distancing, thermal screening, contactless security check, availability of hand sanitisers, daily temperature check for staff members, social distancing in cinema premises, sanitisation before each show, etc.

“Business will come back. I think the moment big films like Tenet start showing, we will attract the requisite audiences and they will adapt to this new way of experiencing cinema. Unlike the US, in India, cinemas account for almost 65 per cent revenue of a film,” said Saksena.

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