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Multiplexes still awaiting approval from state govts to resume operations

Multiplex operators are still awaiting nod from many state governments to resume operations even though the Centre has already issued guidelines with regard to reopening of cinemas and theatres.

Multiplexes, cinema halls and theatres have been allowed to reopen from October 15, with up to 50 per cent of their seating capacity. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) have been issued by the central government.

Though the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has given its go-ahead to resuming cinema and theatre activities under Unlock 5.0, it has left for the states to take a final call in this regard.

Multiplex chains including PVR, Inox, Cinepolis and Mukta A2 Cinemas are all set to re-open their cinema halls from October 15 with half of their seating capacity while ensuring contactless operations and maintaining social distancing norms. These operators have lined up “promising contents” to entertain the audiences in the coming months.

Leading multiplex operator PVR, which operates 875 screens in 22 states, would be able to open only 496 screens as only 14 state governments have granted permission to re-open its multiplexes, according to its CEO Gautam Dutta.

The company is yet to receive any direction from the state government of Maharashtra, where it operates the highest number of screens.

“Maharashtra is an extremely important market for us, occupying the largest percentage of our screen share,” he said.

Mexican movie theatre chain Cinepolis said the company is fully ready and would abide by the directions issued by the government.

“We welcome the move from the central government. Almost 75 per cent screen of the 350 screens, which we operate in India would be open. We are requesting the other state governments to allow us to open the balance screens as soon as possible,” Cinepolis India Chief Executive Officer Devang Sampat said.

Subhash Ghai’s film production company Mukta Arts, which runs multiplex chain under the brand name ‘Mukta A2 Cinemas’, said it will be able to open approximately 40 per cent of the screens that it operates.

“We welcome the decision to reopen cinemas and multiplexes. The SOPs that have been released are highly comprehensive and will guarantee that the return to normalisation is a smooth one. This announcement brings enormous relief to media and entertainment industry and the thousands of people it employs, many of whom have been severely impacted by this shutdown,” Mukta Arts MD Rahul Puri said.