Cinema halls and multiplexes reopened in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday after a seven-month haitus due to the pandemic, viewers though were conspicuously missing.
“The footfalls have been minimal and we ran the first show in the afternoon with a very low audience presence,” said the owner of a newly constructed multiplex in Lucknow.
He said that some viewers went back after they were asked to download the Arogya setu App as per the Covid protocol.
With the district administration issuing a fresh set of guidelines, hours before cinema halls and multiplexes reopened on Thursday, majority of the hall owners chose not to start functioning.
The new guidelines make it compulsory for the theatres to install web cameras and inform the Covid control room if any Covid suspect is tracked through the oximeter. The theatre owners will be required to upload information immediately on the designated link.
A multiplex manager said, “Within hours, we cannot install web cameras and make arrangements to send information through Google link. We already have thermal scanning and sanitizers at every entrance in the mall and also the theatre.”
District Magistrate Abhishek Prakash, who visited a multiplex for inspection, asked the manager to note down the names and addresses of all viewers at the entrance. He also said that cashless transaction should be done in the multiplex.
Meanwhile, Avinash Tripathi, a viewer who had reached a single screen theatre, returned after he found that only re-run of old films were available.
“Theatres should screen films that already have had an OTT release because not everyone has watched films on the digital platform. Who is going to watch re-runs of films that are, in any case, being shown on movie channels every week?” he said.
Multiplex owners who did not open up theatres on Thursday, said that they would now prefer to wait for new releases which would bring in viewers.
“As it is viewers are not coming and then there are no new films being released. It would not be economically viable to run the multiplexes in such a situation,” said a multiplex manager.
Ashish Agarwal, president Uttar Pradesh cinema exhibitors’ federation and managing director of Lucknow’s Umrao Mall, said that “Initially, only two shows would be screened with the first show starting at 1.45 p.m. The second show will start from 5.45 p.m. onwards and will conclude at around 9 p.m. The time between the two shows would be utilized in sanitizing the movie hall.”
Uttar Pradesh has more than 300 single screens and 87 multiplexes with nine multiplexes and 10 single screens in Lucknow. –ians/amita/in