Cinemas in India will get a reprieve beginning October 15 when they are allowed to open outside containment zones. The Ministry of Home Affairs made the announcement late Wednesday, saying that restrictions will include 50% seating capacity. Further guidelines will be issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The move means movie theaters will be back in operation about a month ahead of the lucrative Diwali holiday in mid-November. However, cinemas will remain closed in Maharashtra (which includes Mumbai) until October 31.
Cinemas in the prolific market have been shuttered since March 24. India is a massive consumer of homegrown titles, some of which moved to streaming during the lockdown. It is also the hardest hit international territory in terms of COVID-19 cases with 6.3M through September 30. Fatalities stand at nearly 99K.
Business trade Mint reported in mid-September that Indian box office could be looking at a loss of about $450M due to the lockdown which nixed the busy Eid-al-Fitr holiday.
The Multiplex Association of India posted to Twitter that it “wholeheartedly welcomes” the government’s decision to allow reopenings. “We are committed to ensure a safe, secure and a hygenic cinemagoing experience for the movie lovers of our country,” the org wrote.
MAI Statement on Unlock 5.0 Notification issued by Ministry of Home Affairs. pic.twitter.com/asl6QdB7xe
— Multiplex Association Of India (@MAofIndia) September 30, 2020
After the announcement, filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma tweeted that his movie Corona Virus will be the first film to release locally.
CORONAVIRUS film is about a family caught in the LOCKDOWN situation and has been entirely shot during LOCKDOWN and will be 1st film to release after LOCKDOWN is lifted on movie theatres #CoronaVirusFilm pic.twitter.com/lKzA6Vik04
— Ram Gopal Varma (@RGVzoomin) October 1, 2020
Also from October 15, theme parks will get a green light with measures to be set by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The easing of restrictions falls under the so-called Unlock 5 guidelines which will continue until October 31, according to local reports.