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COVID Fear Refuses To Go, Movie Goers Still Not Going To Cinema Halls, Multiplexes
LUCKNOW || The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted every sector, including the cinema. Across the country, the movie halls have remained closed for 8 months until the union government issued the guidelines for Unlock 5.0, which allowed the re-opening of the theatres from October 15, with 50% of the seating capacity.
"Not many shows are running currently seeing the number of bookings of shows. We are currently running movies that were already released before the pandemic took place and this could be the reason along with fear of virus, that very few people are showing up. Although, we have taken all the measures to fight the Covid-19", Akansha Gupta, assistant manager at Inox cinemas told The News Agency.
She further adds, "lockdown has introduced OTT platforms to much larger audience as all the new movies are releasing on it. This has also affected our business."
Federation of Western Indian Cine Employees (FWICE) and Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA) decided to halt shooting of movies, TV shows and web series. Combating with the lack of new movies and produces, the cinema halls are impacted in more ways than one could comprehend. Managing on the re - releases like Chhichhore, Thappad, Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior and many more, they are hoping that the business bounces back.
Bollywood was all set to release the big films, like Sooryavanshi, Laxxmi Bomb, Coolie No. 1 in the first half of the year, however following the pandemic, the plans were put on hold. OTT (Over The Top) platforms are digital platforms that flourished during the pandemic. Many creators have switched to these for their project releases this year.
Kamran Alam, a resident from Indra Nagar says, "We are hesitant to visit movie theatres or any other public gatherings when there is a constant rise in coronavirus cases. And why should we go to a movie theater when we have access to Netflix, Amazon Prime and other OTT platforms where new movies are being released." He further says, "Yes, watching a movie of my favourite superstar with other fans in a theatre is a different experience but we are unwilling to take any risk".
Contactless security check, sanitization prior to each show, social distancing in-cinema and lobbies, thermal scanning, limited occupancy in restrooms, and packaged food and beverages are made mandatory in the guidelines. Despite following the regulations, the theatres are still struggling to get back in business.
The theatres only sees about 10-15% of the footfall. In a conversation with Mr. Prakash, an attendant working at Wave Cinemas says, "We are showing the old releases and on much smaller scale than before. We cancel shows if there is no booking."
Health officials have also warned about the potential for the virus to spread in such places, however next few months will decide the fate of the business of the cinema halls.
-- Mohd Haris Siddiqui/Lucknow