Actor Abhishek Bachchan’s tweet last week — “The best news of the week!!!!” — surmised the larger mood of the nation, as the guidelines for Unlock 5 announced the reopening of cinema halls on October 15.
Cinema halls have remained shut since mid-March, when India went into complete lockdown because of the pandemic.
The opening of cinema halls has been hailed by many from the industry. “We welcome the government’s decision to open up the cinema and entertainment industry. This move will bring immense relief to scores of employees across the sector which has been one of the worst hit through this pandemic,” stated Ashish Saksena, COO, Cinemas, BookMyShow.
The news ushers in a spell of relief for the film industry which had to resort to the streaming services route to release films for the past six months. Big ticket films such as Shakuntala Devi, Gulabo Sitabo, Dil Bechara and Sadak 2, all had to be released on digital streaming services.
“We are committed to ensure a safe, secure and a hygienic cinema-going experience for the movie lovers of our country, as always, we would continue to assign top-most priority to the health and well-being of our guests and employees,” read a statement from the Multiplex Association Of India.
Health concerns were also addressed by ticket aggregator BookMyshow. “The health and safety of all — from cine-goers to cinema partners, production houses and execution agencies — will be of paramount importance and BookMyShow will uphold all SOPs as mandated for our users’ safe movie watching experience. We have been closely working with all our partners across the cinema industry to build measures for a safe and healthy movie viewing experience and are thrilled to welcome audiences back to the silver screens,” said Saksena.
Nitin Tej Ahuja, CEO, Producers Guild of India, said, “We welcome the Honorable I&B Ministry’s SOPs and hope that it will enable state governments to allow theatres all across our country to open up as soon as possible.”
The reopening of cinemas in India is reflecting a global trend. Recently, Tenet, the Christopher Nolan directorial, had a theatrical release in England. The US, too, opened doors to its cinemas in late August, with Tenet being the first film to be released theatrically. The shutting down of cinemas had led to many major studios postponing release of big budget offerings. In India, big films like Sooryavanshi and 83 have been ready for release for a while, but there is no update as to when they will hit the big screen.
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