Since March-end, there was no drama or motion, fairly actually, in cinema halls throughout the nation. And although states are in unlock mode, the movie exhibition sector nonetheless hasn’t bought a go-ahead. Feeling the monetary pinch, now theatre house owners/exhibitors need the governments to lend them a serving to hand by reducing varied levies such because the Items and Companies Tax (GST), leisure tax and property tax.
“We don’t have to shout from the rooftops that the cinema [exhibition] sector has been badly hit. At this level, we’d respect some help. To start out with, the federal government can cut back or halve the GST for a while no less than. If I have to open the theatre, it needs to be viable for me. In any other case, I’m able to hold it shut for an additional two to 3 months,” says Suman Sinha, the proprietor of Patna-based Regent Cinema.
The bleakest 12 months?
This 12 months, solely a handful of Hindi movies resembling Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior, Baaghi 3, Shubh Mangal Zyaada Saavdhan and Malang, hit theatres earlier than the lockdown got here into drive. “With newer bills [Covid-19 related SOPs] on the time of reopening, we’d need assistance from the federal government. They will cut back leisure tax, GST charges and property taxes in the intervening time,” says Manoj Desai, government director of Mumbai’s G7 and Maratha Mandir theatres.
Based on a Ficci-Ernst & Younger report, the variety of single screens in India has anyway been steadily declining—from 7,031 in 2016 to six,327 in 2019. And India is believed to have misplaced 10-12% of cinema screens for the reason that begin of the lockdown. These numbers may go as much as 15-20%, if theatres don’t reopen quickly.
As exhibitor-distributor Akshaye Rathi places it: “The sectors which were most affected are the hospitality, tourism and leisure. We’d welcome some stimulus when it comes to reductions/rebates. Cinema [exhibition] enterprise is in its most troublesome scenario. For a lot of, it has grow to be the query of survival. Conserving theatres closed for longer would sound the loss of life knell for a lot of.”
Survival at stake
There are too many points, say trade insiders. To start out with, they need SOPs to be viable – financially and in any other case. “How can I’ve individuals sit in alternate seats, and in addition depart a complete row empty? Why would I’ve the whole air-conditioned theatre operate for a handful of individuals?” says Sinha.
Desai additionally rues the dearth of content material. “Even when theatres reopen, will audiences come speeding in, particularly after we don’t have thrilling, new content material?” he says.
Throughout the lockdown, many single-screen theatres resembling AVM Rajeswari and Maharani in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Shanthala in Mysore, Karnataka and Sapna in Thrissur, Kerala, amongst others, downed shutters.
And consultants say near 50% of single-screen theatres might discover it troublesome to remain afloat.
“The federal government ought to significantly contemplate green-lighting the opening of cinema halls. It’s not as if opening them will result in a sudden surge in [Covid-19] numbers. Instances are, anyway, not happening as of now,” says Shibasish Sarkar, group CEO, Reliance Leisure.