Jharkhand to reopen cinemas from 1 March

Jharkhand has permitted theatre operations from 1 March at 50% capacity. It was the only state in India that had not yet allowed cinema halls to reopen post the covid-19 lockdown.

Earlier this month, the ministry of home affairs had allowed 100% occupancy in multiplexes and cinema halls, though individual state governments could take the final call on the same. The move came as a relief to movie theatres that were shut for seven months last year owing to coronavirus pandemic and have been struggling with low attendance and few new offerings since reopening in October.

“Finally after almost a year, theatres in Jharkhand to reopen from March 1, with 50% capacity,” independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai tweeted, adding that as of now, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Kerala are the only states allowing theatres to operate with 50% seating capacity. All the others have permitted 100% occupancies.

The ministry of information and broadcasting had issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be followed in cinema halls following the 100% capacity order which state that no films shall be screened in containment zones. Also, all staff and viewers will have to follow measures such as adequate physical distancing of at least six feet, use face covers or face masks at all times and install Aarogya Setu App on their phones.

Trade analysts have continually emphasised that a revision in seating capacity will be a big positive for cinema industry and lead to release date announcements for big-ticket Hindi films. While studios such as Yash Raj Films have already announced a slate for the coming year, Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi is expected to arrive in cinemas for the Holi weekend though a formal announcement on the same is still awaited. While regional industries, including those in the south, have been lining up films for theatrical release banking on fan base in their native states, Bollywood producers have so far waited for pan-India theatre re-openings and revision in seating capacity limits. Mint

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