The Maharashtra government on Wednesday permitted theatres including single-screen, multiplex and drama halls to reopen from Thursday, adding that they could function outside containment zones only.
No eatables would be allowed inside cinema and drama halls. And detailed standard operating procedures would be issued by the state cultural affairs department, taking into account the guidelines by the ministry of information and broadcasting earlier, the notification issued by the state government said.
Subsequently, Tamil Nadu said it would reopen on November 10. However, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana continue to remain shut, with exhibitor bodies making representations to the respective state governments.
But the reopening of movie halls in Maharashtra, said experts, would come as a huge leg-up for film producers and distributors in Bollywood who were reluctant to release fresh content, since movie halls in the state were shut.
Almost 40-50 per cent of domestic theatrical revenues come from Mumbai and Delhi alone, making it important territories for film exhibitors, producers and distributors.
P V Sunil, managing director, Carnival Cinemas, said that most multiplex operators would target Friday for reopening instead of Thursday. "Most operators will need a day to prepare for reopening. After that there would be a week's trial run with some new and old content before the Diwali weekend sets in," he said.
While clarity on Diwali releases is expected to come in the next few days, exhibitors say that blockbusters will not be released during the Diwali weekend, since producers will have barely a week for promotions and the investment may not be enough to get footfalls into movie halls.
Audience turnout is crucial to most exhibitors, since their discussions with film producers hinges on how many people will make their way back to movie halls in the weeks ahead. This is because around 40 per cent of a movie's revenue comes from the box office, which is, in turn, dependent on the footfalls into cinema halls and the pricing of tickets.
While the average ticket price for multiplex operators is around Rs 150-200, the first few months will see a 20-25 per cent discount on ticket prices to encourage footfalls, experts said.