Multiplex Association of India urges Maharashtra government to reopen theaters
The Multiplex Association of India (MAI), along with leading cinema chains PVR and INOX, on Tuesday urged the Maharashtra government to reopen theaters in the state on an "urgent basis," claiming that the exhibition industry has suffered losses worth Rs. 4,800 crore. The coronavirus pandemic had an overwhelming effect on the film industry as many film shoots and theaters across India were halted twice.
Theaters closed since April due to COVID-19 second wave
In 2020, film production activities and theater business came to a standstill from mid-March when the pandemic first hit India, only to be restarted for a few months from October and November in various parts of the country. Due to the second wave of COVID-19, which hit India in April this year, theaters across India remained closed from the same month.
Various other states have reopened theaters
As COVID-19 cases dropped, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana have permitted the resumption of operations in cinema halls. However, Maharashtra, a key center for Hindi films, is yet to receive consent for reopening of theaters from Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Films are the soft power of Maharashtra: MAI
In its letter, which the MAI shared on its official Twitter handle, the organization said that due to the closure of theaters, the exhibition sector has suffered huge financial losses since March 2020. "Films are the soft power of Maharashtra and cinemas continue to be the main form of entertainment for millions of Indians," the letter read.
The theater industry employs lakhs of people in Maharashtra: MAI
The association noted that there are around 1,000 cinema screens across Maharashtra, which directly and indirectly employs lakhs of people in the state. "Due to the nation-wide lockdown, the cinema exhibition industry has run into an extremely adverse and hostile situation; it was the first sector to be shut down and will be the last sector to reopen," the letter stated.
Cinema halls are equipped with better crowd management facilities: MAI
"Why have theaters not been allowed to reopen as part of the state government's Unlock Maharashtra plan?" asked the association. The MAI claimed that cinema halls are equipped with better facilities to ensure crowd management.
MAI's appeal was published as full-page advertisements in newspapers
The MAI stressed that all the other states across India have reopened cinemas, except Maharashtra, which is the most critical part of the functioning movie industry. MAI's appeal to the state government was published as full-page advertisements in some newspapers and on social media, using the hashtag #UnlockCinemaSaveJobs. The letter has been supported by PVR, INOX, Cinepolis, and the Producers Guild of India.