PVR cinemas likely to reopen during Unlock-3 with riders

RECOMMENDATION of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry that cinema halls may be allowed to function from August adhering to lockdown norms is being considered by the Union Home  Ministry. PVR Cinemas across the country are gearing up with an enhanced set of hygiene and protocols. The company expects nearly 70 percent of the tickets to be bought online when it opens for bookings and believes there is a strong content line-up available for screening even after several producers-distributors opting for the direct-to-digital release route. Paperless sale of tickets, seat distancing, staggered intervals and scrupulous sanitizing are part of the safety protocol recommended to the MHA, says The Pioneer. MHA  is working out the details for India  during Unlock-3.’’We are ensuring basics like sanitisation and masks. Paper tickets will no longer be used. Entry, exit & intermissions will be planned in a manner that avoids overcrowding,” Gurgaon headquartered PVR CEO G Dutta told The Pioneer. PVR operates 841 screens at 176 properties in 71 cities in India and Sri Lanka. SOPs drawn up by the Multiplex Association of India in collaboration with its members were submitted to various Central Ministries as well as Prime Minister’s Office and Niti Aayog earlier this month, said industry leaders INOX, PVR Pictures and Cinepolis India. Cinemas account for the biggest chunk of earnings for movies and have taken a substantial hit during the pandemic and multiplexes are pulling out the stops to ensure audiences return after theatres open. Safety measures like wearing masks and temperature checks at the entrances will be mandatory for everyone entering the cinema complexes. Customers will be screened and those found to have 100 degrees Centigrade or showing viral fever symptoms will be asked to leave with a full refund. Customers will also be required to show their health status on the Aarogya Setu App while entering the premises. There will be floor markers, a metre apart, for people to stand, while hand sanitising stations are being placed all across cinema halls for disinfection and hygiene. There will also be a major change in the cinema viewing experience as there will be a one-seat gap between customers. If one is booking tickets with friends and family, they will be seated together but the seats at the sides will be left empty. The intermission will also be extended along with a row-wise exit to avoid crowding in the auditoriums. Cinema theatre business earns about Rs 12,000 crore per year. About Rs. 1,000 crores are lost every month as the theatres are shut. According to the IANS, Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Secretary Amit Khare has written to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to consider reopening cinema halls all over the country from August. I&B Secretary Amit Khare indicated this at a closed-door industry interaction with the CII Media Committee on Friday. He said his opposite number in the Home Ministry, Ajay Bhalla, will take the final call.

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