Photo Courtesy/Indian Express

Theaters in Kerala are set to reopen after the Pandemic

There are talks with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan which are positive, says film body representative
|| Akshinta Das

Various film bodies have indicated that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has taken a favorable stand towards their demands, setting the stage for reopening of the cinema theaters in the State after nine months of lock-down post COVID-19 outbreak.

The representatives of the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce, the Film Exhibition of United Organization of Kerala (FEUOK), Kerala Film Producers’ Association and Distributors’ Association held a meeting with the CM on Monday morning to discuss about related issues.

According to The Hindu, M.C Bobby, general secretary of the FEUOK, said that the talks with the CM were positive. Mr. Bobby says that the CM has given us the assurance that all our demands will be considered and will be taken ahead for reopening. He will also hold a separate meeting and discussion with the various departments regarding this issue. We will then announce a decision on reopening after meeting wit all the film bodies’ says Mr. Bobby.

The CM said that the demand for relaxation or waiver of fixed charges will be considered. Even though theaters have been closed for nine months, the owners have been closed for nine months, the owners have been asked to pay a fixed charge of more than Rs. 50,000 every month. A demand that will be considered is the one regarding double taxation. Even though we are paying Goods and Services Tax(GST), one extra entertainment tax is also levied. The CM also said that the government will consider extending the dates for renewal of theaters licenses till March. Most of them have expired.

The State government, earlier this month, allowed the theaters to reopen with 50% from 5th January onward,  but the owners of the theaters refused to reopen until their demands were conceded. But, many of them were keen on reopening for the Pongal release of Vijay-starrer Master, considering the possible jump in revenue.

Some issues between the distributors and the exhibitors are also been ironed out. Some of the exhibitors have outstanding payments to be made to the distributors for films which were screened before the outbreak of the pandemic. The exhibitors are hoping to repay this from the reopening of the theaters. With several films ready for release, a priority will be decided based on discussions between the producers. Some of the producers are taking a wait and watch approach as they are unsure of the footfall during these initial weeks.

Kerala Film Chamber Officials said the government has addressed all their concerns and they were grateful to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for the special interests he took in the matter. Giving it’s nod to reopen cinemas, the government has said that theaters could reopen with 50% occupancy and adhering to the COVID-19 guidelines.

Only 50% of the seats should be occupied or only half the tickets sold, said the government, which adds that the health departments should follow the COVID-19 protocol.

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