NEW DELHI: Cinema and multiplex operators have expressed dismay over the government's decision to not allow screens to open in the second phase of unlocking and pointed out that an early decision in this may help mobilise resources in the film industry's ecosystem.
Cinemas are the backbone of the film industry accounting nearly 60 per cent of the film business and an early decision to allow them to open up will only help the mobilisation of resources in the ecosystem and would lead to gradual resurrection, the Multiplex Association Of India (MAI) said in a statement.
According to MAI, globally, countries like France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, Hong Kong, the UAE and the US have opened cinemas with the implementation of the highest degree of safety protocols and like other sector and like them cinemas should also be allowed to operate in non-containment zones across India.
"At a time when a significant part of the economy is being opened up, including domestic travel, offices, high street, markets, shopping complexes, etc, MAI feels dismayed that cinemas and multiplexes continue to remain in the list of prohibited activities under the Central Government's Unlock 2.0 Guidelines," said MAI Member Alok Tandon.
The government on Monday issued guidelines for the month-long 'Unlock 2' - the "phased re-opening" of activities that had been barred to contain the coronavirus spread in the country, - and said educational institutions, metro rail services, cinema halls and gyms will continue to remain closed.
Terming the decision as "highly demotivating and disheartening" MAI said, "As compared to the unorganised retail and shops that have been opened up, multiplexes and cinema are part of the organised sector, playing hosts to 'revenue paying' customers only and hence, in a better position to limit crowds unlike marketplaces and deploy all the mechanisms and guidelines for crowd control and social distancing.
"The multiplex industry in India employs more than 200,000 people directly and accounting nearly 60 per cent of revenues of film business."
"The livelihoods of more than a million people " right from the spot boys to makeup artists, musicians, designers, technicians and engineers to cinema employees to directors and actors hinges on the survival of Indian cinema," he said adding an early decision to allow cinemas to open up will only help the mobilization of resources in the film industry's ecosystem and would lead to gradual resurrection.
"In fact even after opening up, we anticipate at least 3-6 months before things return anywhere close to normal," said MAI adding programming of new content will take some time to kick in; movie buffs, on the other hand, are expected to take a cautious approach before returning to cinemas.
Recently several production houses have released their films directly on OTT platforms which includes Amazon, Netflix bypassing theatrical releases as multiplexes are shut.
Disney+Hotstar had last week announced seven films, which will have a direct-to-digital release. Earlier Gulabo Sitabo had gone for digital release on Amazon Prime Video.