While the Union government gave the go-ahead to open cinema halls across the country beginning October 15, in Tamil Nadu the order from the state government came recently. Consequentially, cinema halls in the state are set to reopen on November 10, after being closed for over seven months. The news comes as a relief for movie buffs who were missing the experience of watching a film on the big screen.
N Venkatesh, Secretary of the Multiplex Owners Association, tells TNM that theatres in Tamil Nadu will follow the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) guidelines specified by the Centre. “We will adhere to 50% seating, regular sanitising, cashless transactions and other norms,” he says.
Being Deepavali week, it is also an important season for film producers, distributors and exhibitors, usually witnessing at least a couple of big stars’ films clashing at the box-office. Last year, it was Vijay’s Bigil and Karthi’s Kaithi. However, this time around no big releases may hit the screens.
Films like Jiiva and Arulnithi’s Kalathil Santhipom, a treasure hunt comedy titled Pandriku Nandri Solli, director Santhosh’s adult horror-comedy Iruttu Arayil Murattu Kuthu 2 and Santhanam’s Dikkiloona are expected to release in theatres during that weekend. “We don’t have confirmation on the films yet. The production houses will be making the announcement officially,” Venkatesh adds.
Tiruppur Subramaniam, President of the Theatre Owners Association, says that an official meeting with theatre owners across the state will be held on Tuesday via video conferencing. “We’ll discuss the films that will be screened and how to go about it. All physical distancing norms and state government prescribed norms will be followed,” he explains.
As for the issues with producers, where they had put forward certain demands to the theatre owners including the demand that the Virtual Print Fee (VPF) to be borne by theatre owners themselves, Subramaniam says that the status quo will be maintained. “Everyone knows that the theatres are reopening after seven months. What we should be focusing on now is how to take this forward. We’ve told the producers that the status quo will continue and that we can discuss this topic once again later,” he shares.
Deepavali will see two big films releasing directly on streaming platforms, including Suriya’s most-awaited Soorarai Pottru. The film is directed by Sudha Kongara and produced by Suriya himself. While the release date was pushed by about 12 days due to a delay in the No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Indian Air Force, this was among the first big films in Tamil cinema to opt to go the OTT way. Soorarai Pottru will release on November 12 on Amazon Prime Video.
The other big release for Deepavali is Nayanthara’s Mookuthi Amman, which will begin streaming on Disney+ Hotstar VIP on November 14. Directed by RJ Balaji and NJ Saravanan, the film will see Nayanthara playing a goddess.
These two big releases apart, those releasing in theatres will be smaller budget films. Subramaniam, on the other hand, believes that theatres will see good footfall especially since people have been going to malls and shopping complexes following the government’s Unlock. “We see people going to markets and for shopping. We believe they will come to theatres as well,” he says.