Theaters re-opening: Will the stars can be seen on the big screens next month?

Bringing relief to the theater owners and cinema fans who fond of watching movies in theaters, the Union Ministry of the Information and Broadcasting has now recommended resuming the operations of the Cinema halls across the country in August. 

The recommendation, which has been moved to the Ministry of Home Affairs, has come at a high time when the theaters across the country have been shut for more than three months in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak and the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19 and at a high time when the movie industries have been switching for a new normal of releasing the movies on the OTT platforms. 

During the interaction with the CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) Media Committee that held on Friday, Union Secretary of the Information and Broadcasting Amit Khare said that the recommendation of opening the theaters across the country has been made to the Home Ministry and stated that Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla will be taking a final decision on the recommendation. 

Khare further stated that the recommendation has been made to the Home Ministry to resume the cinema halls all over India as early as August 1, or the latest, around August 31. With the view of the health protocols, the recommendation suggested that the alternate seats in the first row and the next row would remain vacant, as the recommendation has shown that the cinema halls won't be allowed to fill its full capacity even after the resumption.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has also recommended to change the two metre social distancing norms in the cinema halls into to two yards. However, the Home Ministry is yet to respond back to the recommendation and its decision has been awaiting across the nation on the resumption of the cinema halls.

Commenting on the recommendation, the theater owners, who took part in the interaction, have ruled out the guidelines framed in the recommendation and stated that running films at 25% seating capacity would be worse than keeping the theaters closed.  

The cinema halls and the workforces dependent on the theaters are one of the most affected sectors in the country in the sequel of the lockdown and restrictions. Being a part of the entertainment and recreational centers, the theaters were closed on March 24 and remain closed till date along with several other recreational centers as these places would attract more people amid fighting the human to human transmitting virus. 

However, by citing the closure of the cinema halls and with no idea of when it will be resumed, some of the production houses have switched to the OTT platforms and started releasing their movies through platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. 

Movies like Amitabh Bachchan's Gulabo Sitabo, Sushant Singh Rajput's final movie Dil Bechara, and Tamil movies like Penguin and Ponmagal Vandhal have already been walked on the new feet and on the new normal by getting released on the OTT platforms while some of the movies are also getting queued up for reaching fans home directly.