The problems stemming from COVID-induced disruption continues to plague the Kerala film industry. Theatres will remain shut despite the state government’s go-ahead to reopen with 50 per cent cap on the occupancy.
The members of the Kerala Film Chamber Of Commerce (KFCC) met in Kochi on Wednesday to decide on the reopening of theatres in Kerala. And, they have decided not to resume screening in the state until their demands are met by the government.
The association has sought a relief package from the government as the box office took a severe hit following the coronavirus-induced lockdown. Even as neighbouring states allowed theatres to resume business since last October, the Kerala government did not allow the same. Only last week, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan permitted theatres and multiplexes to operate with certain restrictions.
While many thought that it would bring cheers to the battered producers, exhibitors and distributors, it seems the government’s announcement has only made them upset. The members of KFCC are disappointed that the government did not give any relief package to help the film industry, which has suffered losses running into millions of rupees.
The theatre owners have requested the government to waive off fixed electricity charges incurred by cinemas during the lockdown period. And they have also demanded full exemption on entertainment tax.
Meanwhile, there is also an internal conflict brewing among producers and theatre owners. According to TV reports, theatre owners owe about Rs 16 crore to producers over films that were released before covid. But, the exhibitors claim that the due is not more than Rs 4.25 crore.
Theatres were hoping to make some gains by reopening next week with Vijay’s much-awaited movie Master. The stakeholders were betting on Vijay’s huge fan following to bring the crowd back to the box office in the state. It remains to be seen whether theatre owners will achieve any breakthrough in the negotiations with the government before January 13 and open screens for Master.
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