The Kerala government announced on Friday that it would allow the reopening of theaters in the state from 5 January. However, cinemas must follow the COVID-19 protocol, including a 50 percent cap on occupancy.
The announcement comes as a major relief to the Malayalam film industry, which has been caused by disruption due to the epidemic. According to reports, the top officials of the Kerala Film Chambers have planned to meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday to demand tax exemption and concession on the electricity bill from the government.
The theater owners’ delegation was not able to meet the government due to the code of conduct set for the recently concluded panchayat elections.
Last October, theaters across the country were allowed to reopen with 50 percent seating capacity and other security protocols. However, the Kerala government remained firm on its stand and did not allow the film screening to resume. About 670 theaters remained closed in the state since last March.
The government’s decision is an important time when Vijay’s much-awaited film Master is set to release on 13 January. Vijay enjoys a large following in Kerala, and stakeholders hope that it will bring back cheers at the box office, which has been gathering dust for almost 10 months now.
The master’s Kerala distribution rights have been acquired by actor Prithviraj and producer Listin Stephen. And it is going to be an important task for theater owners to prepare to reopen with the COVID protocol in place within the next two weeks.