The Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce has yet again written to the state government requesting the removal of the 50% occupancy limit for the cinema halls. On July 24, DR Jayaraj, president of the KFCC and vice president Umesh Bankar met the outgoing Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa and handed him a letter, asking for 100% occupancy in theatres citing financial distress for the owners. The KFCC wrote in their letter that bigger production houses are hesitant to release the films due to a limit on occupancy. They had earlier written to the CM in February and March with the same demand.
While announcing relaxations to the lockdown restrictions in the state, on July 18, the Karnataka government permitted theatres to open with a 50% occupancy limit. In their letter to the CM, the KFCC wrote, â€śThe film industry, like any other, has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and cinema hall owners are already in crisis. Even though the cinema halls have been permitted to operate in the state, they are having difficulties in beginning their operations due to an acute dearth of content to show as the big production houses are hesitating to release films due to the 50% occupancy limit.â€ť
In the letter, they further stated that though they have not opened yet, theatres in Telangana are allowed to open with 100% capacity in anticipation of big-budget films that will release soon. With the 50% occupancy cap in Karnataka, though they are ready to be released, exhibitors are not willing to screen Kannada films in theatres, thus putting them and film producers at a loss. â€śWe thus request to consider our plight and permit 100% occupancy in cinema halls like in neighbouring states,â€ť the KFCC stated. They further said that the move will help promote Kannada films.
The Times of India quoted KFCC vice president Umesh Banakar as saying, â€śWhile the industry was not expecting any big-budget movies to hit screens, we expected at least some small-budget films to be released. But none has come forward to release new movies. We have already held talks with producers and several others in the industry. We are going to take talks forward next week and see what can be done to release new movies.