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Cinema halls continue to remain shut in AP

Cinema halls and multiplex screens remained shut in Andhra Pradesh though the Centre permitted them to reopen to half capacity from Thursday under Unlock 5.0.

Film exhibitors made it clear that they could not resume shows given the various constraints, primarily the steep maintenance costs.

Besides the financial burden, the other major issue that is deterring exhibitors from resuming business is the lack of new movies for screening.

As film shootings did not happen for more than five months now due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, no major Telugu movie is lined up for release immediately.

Films of top stars like Mahesh Babu, Allu Arjun and Prabhas are expected to hit the screens only in January next year for Sankranti festival.

“Shootings haven’t picked up yet and they may pick up speed only if the cinema halls reopen. But it will take some time for new films to release,” noted producer-director Anil Sunkara told P T I.

But, the exhibitors say they have a whole set of problems to re-open cinema halls.

“The state government should first waive the power charges that are due. Though the Chief Minister promised to waive the charges during a meeting with film industry heads recently, relevant orders were not issued so far,” Andhra Film Exhibitors Association president K S Prasad said.

He said the exhibitors were discussing the issue with Information and Public Relations Minister Perni Venkataramaiah.

More than 500 cinema theatres in the state could not pay the power bills in the last six months due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, though the government levied only minimum charges.

Each theatre had to pay a minimum of Rs 4 lakh a month as power charges.

The total dues amount to about Rs 12 crore, the Exhibitors Association Secretary Gorantla Babu said.

The Association leaders said there were other issues because of which cinema halls could not be reopened.

“Each theatre has to spend at least Rs 4 lakh for implementing Covid-19 rules. Coupled with other expenses, we need to spend at least Rs 10 lakh a month to re-open theatres,” they added.

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