A day after the Maharashtra government announced the reopening of theatres, cinema halls and multiplexes, most of the establishments remained closed for screening as they awaited standard operation procedure (SOP), which was issued by the tourism and cultural affairs department only in the afternoon.
The SOP included general guidelines of permitting theatres to reopen outside containment zones with up to 50 per cent of their seating capacity, maintaining one seat distance and compulsory wearing of masks at all times.
Cinema halls will now have staggered show timings to prevent a large gathering outside the auditoriums before a film begins. The box office and other areas will also need to be regularly sanitised. Inside the auditoriums, the temperature setting of all air conditioners will be between 24-30 degrees Celsius.
Cinema-goers have been advised to avoid moving during intermission and, as per the guidelines, no delivery of food and beverages will be allowed inside the auditorium. Only packaged food and beverages will be sold.
With the government on Wednesday announcing that cinema halls can reopen after nearly eight months, theatre owners and exhibitors said the announcement could have been made a little in advance, giving them time to prepare.
Manoj Desai, Executive Director of G7 Multiplex and Maratha Mandir theatre, said: “It’s a little surprising. They should have announced this at least a couple of days earlier. We are mentally not prepared. Anyhow, we are thinking to start operations at our smaller theatres like Gossip, Glamour, Gem and Gemini, from this Friday. We will open the bigger ones like Gaiety and Galaxy a few days later. We will also run a matinee show of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge at Maratha Mandir from Friday.”
In a bid to woo cinema-goers back to theatres, PVR and INOX are offering private screenings. One can book an entire cinema to host a party or a get-together. Multiplex operator INOX was the first to launch private screenings that let people book theatres for Rs 2,999 onwards. PVR has announced the launch of Private Viewing Cinema at select properties, which will be available from Rs 1,999 onwards.
Movie aficionados will have to make do with reruns
As theatres gradually open up, movie aficionados will mostly have to make do with reruns as most producers are still apprehensive of releasing new films on the big screen.
Bollywood films like Tanhaji, Thappad and Mission Mangal as well as Hollywood films such as Parasite, Lion King and Ford Vs Ferrari — already released on various OTT platforms — are set to become the first few films to be screened in the state in the cinemas post the lockdown.
S S Rajamouli’s magnum opus Baahubali series will be re-released. Filmmaker Karan Johar took to Twitter to share the update along with the posters of the two instalments of the movie. As per the poster, while the first instalment of the film will re-release in theatres on Friday, the second instalment is slated for a release a week later.
On the other hand, film Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari, featuring Manoj Bajpayee, Diljit Dosanjh and Fatima Sana Shaikh, is set to become the first film to have a theatrical release around Diwali.
Theatre owners said that viewers will also get to see films released between last year and March 2020 in the cinemas again.
While theatres and multiplexes had reopened in several states on October 15, not a single new Bollywood or Hollywood movie has been released yet.
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