India has reopened cinemas after seven months of lockdown. However, the coronavirus pandemic has still strengthened its roots in the country.
BBC reporter Krutika Pathi said that lockdown losses will haunt its comeback as barely new films are being produced.
“Cinemas have got the brunt. We were the first to shut down and we will be the last to reopen,” Alok Tandon, the CEO of multiplex chain Inox, told the BBC last month.
Note that India has the second-highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the world after the US. The country’s health ministry has reported 680 deaths in the last 24 hours.
Rakesh Jariwala, a media and entertainment analyst, said that after a long summer with no movies on the big screen, opening up cinemas is largely a symbolic and “feel-good movie.” “The thinking is hopeful – like the idiom goes, build a city and people will come,” he adds.
However, the experience of watching a movie in theatres will not be the same this time. Local media reported that there will not be long queues for the tickets. Names and phone numbers will be collected at the entrance for contact tracing and popcorn will also be sterilized. Around 50% of people in the hall will be allowed to sit.
Film critic Saibal Chatterjee said, “People aren’t dying to go back and watch old films – why would we spend our money and take a risk? Who would go with their family and potentially expose them?”
“It’s a vicious circle – people won’t come unless a big blockbuster release, but producers won’t release a big movie unless people come,” Komal Nahta, a film and trade analyst, says.