There must be a start and the unlocking of cinemas in non-containment zones across India should be done post-haste, the association said.

PVR Cinemas in multiplexImage for representation
Flix Cinema Thursday, July 02, 2020 - 16:07

The Multiplex Association of India (MAI) has expressed its displeasure as cinemas and multiplexes continue to remain in the list of prohibited activities under the Central government’s Unlock 2.0 guidelines. At a time when a significant part of the economy is being opened up, including domestic travel, offices, high street, markets, shopping complexes, etc., the MAI said it feels dismayed by the government’s decision. 

The association said it finds this highly ‘demotivating and disheartening’, when cinemas and multiplexes ensure physical distancing and crowd control can be exercised in a safe manner. 

“As compared to the unorganised retail and shops that have been opened up, multiplexes and cinema are part of the organised sector, playing hosts to ‘revenue paying’ customers only and hence, in a better position to limit crowds unlike marketplaces and deploy all the mechanisms and guidelines for crowd control and social distancing,” the association said in a statement. 

The multiplex industry in India employs more than 200,000 people directly, the association said, adding, “We are the backbone of the Indian Film Industry accounting nearly 60% of revenues of film business. The livelihoods of more than a million people – right from the spot boys to makeup artists, musicians, designers, technicians and engineers to cinema employees to directors and actors – hinges on the survival of Indian cinema.”

The lockdown has brought the entire industry to a standstill with losses mounting every passing day. An early decision to allow cinemas to open up will only help the mobilisation of resources in the film industry’s ecosystem and would lead to gradual resurrection, the association said. 

“In fact, even after opening up, we anticipate at least 3-6 months before things return anywhere close to normal. On one hand where programming of new content will take some time to kick in; movie buffs on the other hand are expected to take a cautious approach before returning to cinemas. These are real challenges that the industry will have to overcome, and we believe together, with the support of the government, we will be able to overcome them,” the MAI added. 

The association cited that globally, countries like France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Austria, Hong Kong, UAE, US, etc. and more recently Belgium and Malaysia have opened cinemas to the public with implementation of the highest degree of safety protocols and have seen a warm response by audiences. 

There must be a start and the unlocking of cinemas in non-containment zones across India should be done post-haste, the Association said, adding that an opportunity must be given to the cinema industry, just like some of the other sectors. 

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