Even though the Kerala government has given permission to reopen cinema theatres on Tuesday, uncertainty looms large over screening of films due to technical and financial reasons.
One of the major hurdles for screening is the non availability of new films on Tuesday. The second reason is the inordinate delay in implementing the various concessions that the government had announced for the film industry.
A meeting of theatre owners is taking place on January 5 while the Film Chamber has also convened a meeting of producers , distributors and theatre owners on January 6. Both the meetings are taking place in Kochi. A clear picture on resuming film screening in theatres will emerge only after these meetings. It is felt that theatres will have to screen the films of superstars if they were to attract people on Tuesday.
People are expected to throng the theatres to watch Vijay's Tamil film Master, set to be released. The film is likely to be screened across 200 theatres.
However, there is still no clarity on films to be screened after a week. Mohanlal's "Marakkar" and films of other stars are expected to hit the theatres on or after March. Even if the producers agree to screen some small budget movies, there is no guarantee that these films will draw enough people to the theatres.
It will be known on January 6 as to how many producers are ready to immediately screen movies. At the same time there is resentment among the cine organizations over levying GST on cinema, entertainment tax and GST on entertainment tax. The theatres also have dues worth Rs 7 to 12 lakh on account of electricity fixed charge. The theatre owners are demanding relaxation in this amount.
Though Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had held a video conference with the film sector on these issues in November , a decision could not be taken in view of model code of conduct in place for local body polls.
Rs 14 crore due to producers
The producers and distributors have decided to release films only after their dues are settled. The film chamber will conduct a discussion on the issue on Tuesday and take a decision on giving films for screening subsequently. The producers and distributors say that Rs 14 crore is due to them for the nine films that were released up to March last year. They feel that producers will go into huge debts if the films are released without settling the dues.
120 films during Covid period
Despite Covid pandemic plunging the cinema industry into a major crisis last year, as many as 120 Malayalam films were certified by the Censor Board during this period of which 40 films were released before lockdown. While the preparations are on to release the remaining films, the work on over 50 new films have also begun and these are at different stages at the moment.
Earlier the producers association had opined that films should be produced only after taking into account of Covid situation in the state. They say it would be difficult to get theatres without the release of the films that have already been completed.