While proprietors of movie theatres in many other states are gearing up to reopen their theatres on October 15 as per guidelines, movie buffs in parts of Tamil Nadu are keeping their fingers crossed to take their seats and relax in movie halls.
However, Rm M. Annamalai, president of Tamil Nadu Film Exhibitors Association, when contacted, said the theatre owners in the state are yet to get the nod from the government.
“Seven states already gave the go-ahead for theatre owners to reopen on October 15,” he told DT Next on Sunday.
Referring to the Centre’s guidelines, Annamalai said the aspect of online ticket booking for viewing movies on multiplex screens would hardly suit audiences of Tier Three cities.
Unlike Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu, not many have a habit of booking online tickets for watching movies. Over 60 per cent of movie audiences in Chennai normally book their tickets online, since movie halls are located far off from many residential areas. But only about 20 per cent of movie audiences in Madurai tend to book tickets online and it’s even below in cities down south.
The multiplex screens constitute about 50 to 60 per cent of the movie theatre industry in Tamil Nadu. Though the long-awaited reopening of movie halls is expected soon, stakeholders relying on this entertainment industry could have to face some practical difficulties as only 50 per cent of the theatre seating capacity will be allowed entry at a time.
The stakeholders could, however, manage and accommodate audiences during weekdays when the occupancy rate of about 20 to 30 per cent of a theatre is reported normally. But most of all, movie halls come alive on the weekends when many are free to revel in. Weekends see occupancy rates of about 50 to 75 per cent in movie halls, normally.
The stakeholders of this entertainment industry had been solely relying on box office collections achieved on weekends to run the shows on weekdays. Further, Annamalai also requested the government to waive off property tax and minimum electricity charges since movie theatres remain closed for seven months now.
D. Sundaram, a cinema house owner in Madurai, said stakeholders of this industry would face new challenges once theatres were reopened. Since many would not know what to do next, he said only after screening a couple of movies they would know what their expenses are. As for Sundaram, the reopening seems to be a new business venture.