Multiplex Association of India urges Centre to allow reopening of cinema halls
After weeks of shut down, the Multiplex Association of India (MAI) recently released a statement calling upon the government for a decision on reopening of cinemas across the country. The Association expressed dismay and disappointment over the government’s decision to keeping cinema halls and multiplexes shut in its Unlock 2.0 plan which started on July 1.
In the statement, the Association stated that at a time when a significant part of the economy including domestic flights, offices, malls, and shopping complexes are being opened up, cinemas and multiplexes continue to remain in the list of prohibited activities in the government’s plan for a gradual reopening of the economic activities. Disheartened by the Centre’s decision, the Association maintained that multiplexes and cinema are in an improved position to limit crowds and deploy all the mechanisms and guidelines to maintain social distancing and control crown amid pandemic restrictions, unlike big marketplaces.
“The Association finds it highly demotivating and disheartening when in fact, Cinemas and Multiplexes can become an example of how social distancing guidelines and crowd control can be best exercised in a safe and planned manner,” the statement read.
It further maintained that the multiplex industry employs more than 2 lakh people directly in the country, adding that the lockdown has brought the Indian entertainment industry to a standstill with losses increasing every day. According to MAI, the multiplex industry is the backbone of the film industry in India, accounting to 60% of revenues of the movie business. Therefore, requesting for an early decision to allow cinemas to open, the Association stated that it will help in mobilization of resources and will to a gradual resurrection of the Indian film industry.
“Even after opening up, we anticipate at least 3-6 months before things return anywhere close to normal,” the Association added.
It further highlighted that many countries including France, Spain, Hong Kong, UAE, US, have begun reopening their cinemas with the highest degree of safety protocols to tackle the pandemic.
“MAI is of the firm belief that there must be a start and the unlocking of cinemas in non-containment zones across India should be done post haste – there must be a beginning and an opportunity must be given to us, just like some of the other sectors,” the statement concluded. This development has come in the wake of the decision made by a number of big-banner Bollywood films to move to OTT platforms in spite of a theatrical release as cinema halls in the country continue to remain shut. Several big Bollywood films such as ‘Laxmmi Bomb’, ‘Dil Bechara’, ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’ and ‘Shakuntala Devi: The Human Computer’, among others have announced their release on video streaming platforms Disney+ Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime, instead of cinema halls. Major cinema hall and multiplex owners have also expressed disappointment with the unprecedented shift of Bollywood films from the big screen to the small screen.