Organisations seek revival package before reopening cinemas
Even as uncertainty looms large over the date of reopening of cinema theatres in the State, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will on Monday hold a meeting with various bodies to iron out the issues. The meeting is happening at a time when Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK) has hardened its stance regarding reopening.
FEUOK president and producer Antony Perumbavoor said on Saturday that the theatres in the State would not be opening only for the screening of the Tamil film Master, starring Vijay. He had said that a decision on this would depend on the State government’s stance on their demands in Monday’s meeting. This shift in stance came only a few days after the exhibitors had earlier in the week expressed their willingness to reopen the theatres within a week.
Participating in the meeting will be representatives of the Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce, FEUOK, Kerala Film Producers’ Association and Distributors’ Association.
Anil Thomas, vice president, Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce, told The Hindu that the organisations would demand a revival package from the government. “The theatres will be reopened if there is a favourable stance from the government towards the demands from the exhibitors. For the producers, we would also demand a subsidy of ₹10 lakh for films which are going to be released. As far as the disputes between the distributors and the exhibitors regarding the outstanding payments to be made by the exhibitors, it has almost been settled. These payments can be settled once the theatres reopen,” said Mr. Thomas.
M.C. Bobby, general secretary of the FEUoK, said that the exhibitors were ready to reopen if three of their key demands were accepted by the government.
“The first major demand is that the double taxation of theatre owners should not continue. There should be an exemption on entertainment tax. Regarding the electricity charges, we are ready to pay for what we have used, but the fixed charges for nine months when the theatres remained closed should be waived. Since all our existing licenses have expired, the government should extend these for six months, as there is no time now to renew these,” said Mr. Bobby.
The State government had earlier this month allowed cinemas to reopen with 50% capacity from January 5, but the theatre owners refused to reopen until their demands are met. However, most of them were keen on reopening for the Pongal release of the Vijay-starrer Master, considering the possible revenue, they now seem to prefer bargaining a better deal from the government.
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