While it is likely that the government might give the nod for the reopening of theatres soon, Tollywood distributors and producers opine that it's not practical to reopen and run theatres without a vaccine arriving in the market for COVID-19 or till the coronavirus cases start going down. Theatres across the country are closed due to the lockdown restrictions that came into place in the month of March to curb the spread of coronavirus.
According to sources, major distributors and producers from Tollywood recently conducted a Zoom meeting among themselves to discuss the possibility of reopening theatres and have decided to wait for the vaccine.
âGoing to theatres to watch a movie is not on the priority list for the public right now and they will not come even if we open until there is a vaccine for the coronavirus. If they want entertainment, they will watch television in their homes,â C Kalyan, President, Telugu Film Producers Council (TFPC), told TNM.
He added that even if the government asks theatres to reopen, they might close them again the next day depending on the public's pulse. For theatre owners and the film industry, the reopening of theatres might be of utmost importance, but for the audience, it's likely to come way down in their list of priorities, he pointed out, noting that this is why distributors are not ready.
âEven when we would get 150% profit on the first day of a movie's release, it would still be difficult to balance maintenance costs till the end of its run as the crowds start to dwindle. Now if we run with 25% occupancy, we will end up in losses and will not be in a position to maintain the safety precautions that the government is asking us to take,â added Kalyan.
Meanwhile, Suresh Babu Daggubati, Managing Director of Suresh Productions, who is also a distributor and producer, said that it would be good to wait for a little longer till the coronavirus cases go down.
âIt's not the right time to open theatres in our country. We should not become agents for the virus. In some countries, the theatres are opening because the coronavirus cases are in the decreasing trend or have decreased significantly. But in India, the cases are only on an increasing trend and they have gone up tremendously. It's good to open the theatres when the cases are coming down, to gain people's confidence," he said.
He added that there is not enough content available right now to play in theatres as many shoots have been disrupted.
âWhatever content was there, it's already up on the OTT platforms. Producers are also in a dilemma, wondering whether the public would be interested to go out to watch movies, even if they release. Only time will tell. I personally feel we should wait a little longer,â said Suresh.