In a big boost to the battered Tamil film industry, the state government on Monday issued a new directive removing the 50 per cent cap on occupancy in theatres.
“Now, therefore the government hereby permits to increase the seating capacity of cinemas/theatres/multiplexes from existing 50 per cent to 100 per cent by following the Standard Operating Procedure issued already,” said the Tamil Nadu government in its later order.
The order comes days after Vijay and theatre owners requested Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami to allow theatres to function at their full capacity. As per the COVID-19 safety protocol, since last October, the theatres in the state were allowed to fill up only 50 per cent of their seats to ensure social distancing.
The protocol has now been changed in view of Vijay’s upcoming movie Master, which is due to open in cinemas on January 13. Simbu’s Eeswaran will hit the screens on January 14.
Master has the right opportunity to restart the business of film exhibition, which has suffered losses running into hundreds of crores in the last year. The industry stakeholders are betting on Vijay’s massive popularity to draw the crowd back to theatres, despite the pandemic.
Tamil Nadu is the first state to allow cinema halls to operate at 100 per cent capacity. The 50 per cent cap, however, still remains in neighbouring states. In fact, only last week, the Kerala government gave its nod to re-open theatres with 50 per cent capacity with COVID-safety protocols in place.
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