CHENNAI: After incurring heavy losses for almost 10 months, the theatre industry in Tamil Nadu was back in business with the release of Vijay-starrer Master, and relieved too as occupancy cap in movie halls was increased to 100 per cent from February 1. The elated industry even had big releases lined up for April and May, but the happiness was short-lived. With the second wave hitting the country, the State government decided to shut theatres from Monday onwards.
According to experts in the business, the theatre industry in the State will sustain a loss of around Rs 1,000 crore a month due to the shutdown, hitting hard over 2 lakh people employed in the sector. Tamil Nadu Theatres Association president Tirupur Subramaniam said that the already-distressed industry will soon be in the pits. “There are 1,112 theatres in the State and the worst-affected will be the small ones.
Even though we don’t operate, we have to incur expenses towards property tax, electricity bills and employees’ salary to maintain the theatres. With zero revenue, we have to manage all these expenses from our pockets. I don’t know what will happen if this lockdown continues for the entire year,” he added. “The scale of impact is huge on the industry and lakhs of people will lose jobs,” said G Dhananjayan, a film producer.
Chennai City Film Exhibitors Association president Abirami Ramanathan opined that even after the lockdown is lifted it will be long before the industry revives. According to Ramanathan, the government should take measures to provide some relief to the theatre industry by relaxing taxes. “Once the new government is elected, we will approach them to provide us rebate on electricity bills and GST,” he added.