Guwahati Cinema Hall Owners Chalk Plans to Counter Massive Lockdown Losses
While India went on a nationwide lockdown starting from March 24, cinema halls across the country have been closed since March 15, leading to huge amounts of losses for the entertainment industry, especially cinema hall owners.
“Running a cinema hall involves a huge amount of fixed costs which include electricity bills, rent, staff salary, etc. Due to the lockdown, we are incurring losses worth approximately Rs 25,000-Rs 30000 per day,” expressed Chinmoy Sharma, the owner of Anuradha Cinema Hall in Guwahati.
Anuradha Cinema Hall in Guwahati is one of the oldest cinema halls in the city, started in the year 1971. In spite of competitions from newer halls and multiplexes, it has been standing tall for the past 49 years.
However, due to the outbreak of coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown, Anuradha, like other cinema halls, has been facing a tough time. To add to the woes, there’s very high competition from over the top (OTT) media platforms like Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video, Voot, Sony Liv, Jio TV etc.
Yet, some of the cinema halls in Guwahati already have post-pandemic plans in place.
Speaking to G Plus about the plans of Anuradha to restart business once the lockdown is over, Chinmoy Sharma said, “People have become very conscious about hygiene and a fear currently prevails about visiting crowded places such as cinema halls. To deal with the fear psychology, we are planning to do away with 25-30% of the occupancy to ensure a minimum distance among guests. Maximum sterilization will be done and focus will be given on online purchase of tickets.”
Further, cinema halls are looking at possible renovation and upgradation to withstand the enormous amount of competition from OTTs. From upgrading to the latest Atmos technology which creates powerful, lifelike sound that flows all around you to installing special screens for better 3D experience, cinema halls are leaving no stones unturned to give its audience a better experience.
“Instead of shying away from our competition, we are finding ways to evolve and stand up to it,” a cinema hall owner exclaimed.
Rajib Bora, owner of Gold Cinemas and general secretary of All Assam Cinema Hall Owners’ Association told G Plus that the entertainment industry of Assam was facing a tough time since the beginning of the anti-CAA protests in December and just when the industry started to pick up pace and revive, the lockdown was imposed and it completely collapsed.
“The cinema industry is already in a very alarming situation. If the current situation continues to prevail, the industry will be nowhere,” he stated.
Sources have informed G Plus that due to the current situation, layoffs and non-payment of salary is also taking place in many cinema halls.
Cinema hall owners seek government aid
Movie theatre owners across country are facing huge losses due to temporary shutdown of cinema halls in the wake of coronavirus lockdown. A shutdown of this sort has been unprecedented.
To discuss measures to survive the alarming situation, a meeting was held among the cinema hall owners of Assam.
Speaking to G Plus about the measures, general secretary of All Assam Cinema Hall Owners’ Association, Rajib Bora said, “We have urged the government to waive off or give reduction in fixed charges of electricity since we are not using any electricity at the moment.”
He added that the association had urged projector companies UFO and CUBE to waive rental charges for the projector. The companies have agreed to not charge rent from any theatre in Assam until they start functioning again.
It should be mentioned that the Assam Government had announced for grants amounting to Rs 50 lakhs each to be given to certain cinema halls of the state. While the amount had been sanctioned, the cinema hall owners have not received a single penny.
“If the government releases the grants we were promised, it would help us survive this lockdown and the enormous competition that we have been getting from online streaming platforms,” a cinema hall owner told G Plus.