Kerala Film Chamber not to reopen theatres, fate of new releases hangs in balance

The fate of many Malayalam movies, which are scheduled to be released soon, hangs in balance with the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce deciding against theatre reopening on Wednesday.

The Kerala government had given permission to reopen the theatres on Tuesday. However, the Chamber -  the apex body of the associations of producers, distributors and exhibitors -  said theatres would remain closed until the government meets its demands.

The chamber had demanded a comprehensive package to alleviate the financial stress endured by the film sector during the lockdown and a waiver of entertainment tax.

Kerala has over 1,200 screens in traditional theatres and multiplexes.

A host of demands

The chamber wanted the government to address a host of demands ranging from waiving entertainment tax to forego fixed electricity charges slapped on theatres even though it had remained shut for over 10 months.

"Various film associations have submitted several representations detailing our worries and concerns. But, the government is yet to give a clear reply," said a Chamber official.

"Though we were told that there would be an announcement in this regard soon after the local body polls, it is yet to come,” he said.

Theatre owners had requested the government to forego fixed electricity charges, imposed on cinemas even though they had remained shut. Waiver of entertainment tax was also among the many other demands raised by the industry players.

"Kerala may be the only state where the entertainment tax is collected in addition to the Goods and Services Tax (GST). It is our major demand to get this tax waived," the source added.

What Pinarayi Vijayan said

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had, last week, announced that theatres could reopen from January 5 with 50 per cent occupancy and adhering to strict COVID- 19 guidelines.

Only 50 per cent of the seats should be occupied or only half the tickets sold, he said adding that the health department's COVID-19 protocol should be strictly followed.

Since the cinemas had remained shut for so long, they should be disinfected before reopening, he had said.

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