Entertainment The Multiplex Association of India (MAI) on Wednesday “wholeheartedly” welcomed the Union Home Ministry’s guidelines, permitting the opening up of cinema halls outside the containment zones from October 15. Meanwhile, PVR CEO Gautam Dutta said that Daniel Craig-starrer No Time to Die, the fifth film in the James Bond franchise, Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, and Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi would be among the first movies to hit the box office, reports Times Now.Cinema halls across the country had been shut after a lockdown was imposed from March 25 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier in the day, the ministry said activities permitted from October 15 include cinemas, theatres and multiplexes that can open with up to 50 percent of their seating capacity, for which the SOP will be issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
In a statement, the MAI said the home ministry’s decision was awaited by”millions of movie lovers, employees of the cinema exhibition sector, along with the entire film industry.””We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for their support and guidance.”We are committed to ensure a safe, secure and hygienic cinema-going experience for the movie lovers of our country, as always, we would continue to assign top-most priority to the health and well-being of our guests and employees,” the association said.The MAI also requested “urgent permission” from the state governments to reopen cinemas in their states, saying it would help in ensuring that the cinema exhibition sector is able to “quickly recover from the dire economic and financial impact of the epidemic.””We look forward to welcoming back moviegoers to a safe and an amazing brand new experience at our cinemas,” the statement added.On the other hand, Dutta told Times Now, “You have to wear a mask while buying the food, but once you’re in your seat you’re free to not wear it and enjoy the movie… This is the new order and the new way for a movie experience. There might be friction initially but people and consumers will come around. We have seen that across businesses and everything opening up be it airports, metro, rail, buses all opening up. We are all learning to live it and it should be no different for the cinema either.”When asked if multiplex chains have new titles to release, Dutta said, “Only a handful of 30-31 movie titles including from down South and Bollywood have been released on the OTT Platforms, which is just about 2-2.5% of regular releases in the given period. The verdict is clear. Everyone in the industry understands the importance of the movie exhibition sector. We have enough content till March.”The coronavirus induced country-wide lockdown was first announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from March 25 and it was extended in phases till May 31. The Unlock process in the country had begun on June 1 with the graded reopening of commercial, social, religious and other activities.India’s coronavirus tally has mounted to 62,25,763 on Wednesday, while the death toll climbed to 97,497. The number of people recuperating from the disease has surged to 51,87,825. There are 9,40,441 active cases of the infection in the country which comprises 15.11 percent of the total caseload.(With inputs from PTI)