Cinema owners, producers and film exhibitors from India took to Twitter on August 30 to urge the government to re-open cinema theatres that have been shut for the last six months owing to the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the movie industry.
The digital protest that goes by the hashtag #SupportMovieTheatres has been gaining momentum with industry insiders, cinema hall owners and film trade experts calling for urgent action to re-open theatres in India to survive the losses.
Producer Boney Kapoor tweeted in support of the movement and tweeted #savecinemas.
A week ago, the ministry of home affairs in India has allowed open air theatres to resume operations from September 21 as part of the Unlock 4.0 guidelines. However, cinema halls, entertainment parks, and similar places will continue to remain closed.
Distributor Girish Johar tweeted: “Due to zero revenues, we have already lost 12 to 15 per cent of our screen count, be it single screens or independent multiplexes. Imagine they may never lit up their screens again … timely and safely critical steps is the need of the hour.”
Reliance Entertainment Vice President Pradeep Jaiswal tweeted: “Cinema dint spread the virus which has now reached 35 lacs. Save cinema, save jobs … save Indian film industry [sic].”
According to reports, Bollywood — the Hindi film industry — alone has lost over Rs1,000 crores owing to the closures and disruption of businesss since March when the coronavirus restrictions began worldwide.
Millions of jobs and livelihood are at stake due to the closure of cinemas. The Multiplex Association of India also tweeted: “Most countries across the world have allowed cinemas to operate. We request the Govt Of India to allow us to operate as well. We are committed to offering a safe and hygienic cinema experience.”
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Many also questioned how metros are safer than cinemas?
“If social/sports/cultural/religious/political functions are allowed with 100 people, then why not cinemas?,” tweeted a user.
Producer Paragg Mehta also pointed out that theatres are lifeline of movies.
“The death of theatres will mean loss of a very important distribution channel and never a good outcome in long term. Long live theatres. #supportmovietheatres,” tweeted Mehta.
A few frustrated industry insiders also questioned the Indian government’s decision to keep cinema halls shut to spread the virus outbreak.
“So #Movietheatres are supposedly coronavirus super spreaders … Everything else can be opened except us … When we closed there were 300 cases and today there are 30 lakh plus … metros, planes, bars, restaurants and 100 ppl assembly safe? With capacity cap cinema not safe, #SupportMovieTheatres,” tweeted Vishek Chauhan.
At the time of writing, stars and actors were yet to participate in the digital protest.