Cinemas from today with Covid-19 SOP

Theatres and multiplexes will open this week, the earliest on October 15, in several places, including Delhi and parts of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, with stringent dos and don’ts in keeping with the new Covid-19 normal. Sushant Singh Rajput’s last theatrical release “Chhichhore” is among the films that will get a big screen re-release on Thursday.

However, theatres and multiplexes will remain closed in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Chhattisgarh.

The SOPs mandated by the Union Government include one seat distance in halls, 50 per cent capacity, masks at all time, proper ventilation and air conditioner temperature settings at above 23 degrees Celsius.

PVR Cinemas, India’s largest film exhibitor with 845 screens in 176 properties across 71 cities, on Wednesday said 10 States and four UTs have given their go-ahead for the reopening of cinemas. Accordingly, PVR will start operations in 487 screens from Thursday and hope that other States will soon give their green signal too.

The multiplex chain said it hopes to build customer confidence with an ‘Evangelism’ phase which will give people a chance to experience its enhanced safety features first-hand. This phase will involve goodwill screenings for the company’s employees, health workers and the police force and their children.

The movie screenings will begin from Friday, October 16, and tickets will go live on their website as well as other ticketing platforms from midnight.

Like the others in the business, INOX Leisure Ltd said it has introduced security checks like mandatory masks and temperature checks besides staggered entries, intermissions and exits. 

The theatre chain will completely rely on e-tickets instead of paper tickets and an all-in-one SMS with links for the QR code, auditoriums seat chart and access to F&B menu.

“We are also looking to innovate with private screenings, where families or smaller groups of guests can book the entire auditorium and enjoy the content of their choice,” its CEO Alok Tandon said in a statement.

Cinemas have to deal with the double whammy of Covid fears and old content and have their fingers crossed as they prepare to rollout a different kind of movie going experience.

As theatres managements scrupulously sanitise their premises in preparation for the big day and hope for audiences to warily trickle back in, the fare is likely to be a mix of international, Hindi and regional language cinema but basically old titles.  It will take a while before new content returns. The release of two major Bollywood movies — “83”, about India’s cricket world cup victory, and “Sooryavanshi” starring Akshay Kumar — has been pushed to Christmas and next year, respectively.

So, if PVR  will screen earlier hits such as Keanu Reeves’ “John Wick 3”, Ajay Devgn’s “Tanhaji”  and Tapsee Pannu starrer “Thappad”, Bihar-based exhibitor Vishek Chauhan, who runs the Roopbani Cinema in Purnea  will play Rajput-starrer “Chhichhore”. The hope is perhaps that audiences will return to theatres to watch Rajput, the Bihar-born actor whose death in June has the nation agog.

Thursday, 15 October 2020 | Staff Reporter/PTI | New Delhi/Mumbai

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