India to Reopen Cinemas From Mid-October

Cinemas across India are to be allowed to reopen from Oct. 15, the national government announced on Wednesday. The move comes despite India’s still swelling number of coronavirus cases.

“Cinemas/ theatres/ multiplexes will be permitted to open with up to 50% of their seating capacity,” said the Home Ministry. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is expected to issue further standard operating procedures which cinema operators will be required to apply.

Cinemas in India have been closed since mid-March. And, while some other parts of the economy have been allowed to restart since June 1, most states had kept cinemas closed. West Bengal was one exception, having last week said that movie halls could reopen from Oct. 1.

The Multiplex Association of India, said that it “wholeheartedly” welcomed Home Ministry announcement. “We are committed to ensure a safe, secure and a hygienic cinema going experience for the movie lovers of our country, as always, we would continue to assign top-most priority to the health and well-being of our guests and employees,” the association said in a statement.

The more than six months of cinema closure have caused content owners and distributors to experiment with direct to streaming business models. Amazon Prime was first to ditch a planned theatrical release in favor of an online one when it grabbed Shoojit Sircar’s Amitabh Bachchan-starring “Gulabo Sitabo.” But that example has been followed by Disney Plus Hotstar, Netflix and Sony LIV, all adding to the vibrancy of India’s streaming sector.

India has the world’s second highest total number of confirmed coronavirus infections, with 6.23 million according to latest data. The death toll stands at over 97,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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