PVR Cinemas reopened the doors of its cinema halls for the general public in Maharashtra from Thursday amid stringent precautionary measures.
The Maharashtra government had on November 5 allowed cinema halls, multiplexes and drama theatres outside containment zones to restart operation with 50 per cent seating capacity and a host of dos and don’ts, including ensuring physical distancing, sanitisation and no eatables allowed.
The decision came as a relief for the business that was crippled due to the lockdown in March to contain the spread of COVID-19.
PVR Cinemas, which has a portfolio of 831 screens in 173 properties operating in 71 cities across the country, said the reopening of theatres in Maharashtra is significant as it occupies the largest percentage of screen share.
“Maharashtra contributes one fourth of all India collection. For PVR, we have 831 screens across the country of which 140 are in Maharashtra, 18 to 20 per cent (collection) comes from the state.
“The film industry is based in Mumbai and so everyone was eagerly waiting for the government to give permission. As we reopen slowly and steadily from today, for us ensuring the safety and security of our customers and employees is our aim,” Chandresh Daftary, Regional Director West and Central, PVR Limited, told PTI during the media preview of the safety arrangements made in their theatres.
South Korean band BTS’ new movie “Break the Silence: The Movie” is the first film to be screened at PVR theatres.
“The response is overwhelming and it gives us the confidence. The screening pipeline looks promising and we are optimistic the momentum will pick up from here on,” Daftary said, adding that film producers have shown intent to release films in cinemas soon.
The upcoming slate of films that will be released include English titles such as “My Spy” as well as Yash Raj Films library of 15 titles, ranging from Rajesh Khanna’s “Daag” to the studio’s most recent releases.
In the coming days, PVR Cinemas will also release Manoj Bajpayee-starrer Suraj Pe Mangal Bhari and movies such as Arjun Kapoor’s Sandeep Aur Pinky Farar , “Indoo Ki Jawaani” featuring Kiara Advani, Amole Gupte-directed Saina Nehwal biopic, “Jayeshbhai Jordaar” starring Ranveer Singh, among others.
The multiplex chain has implemented stringent hygiene protocols such as minimal human contact across all touch-points, social distancing marked queuing, digital contact-less transactions, operating 50 per cent of the restroom facilities, chequered seating with only 50 percent occupancy, EPA approved complete ULV sanitisation process at regular intervals.
Guests with symptoms will not be allowed inside the premises, while intermissions and exits will be staggered.
In addition to this, all PVR Cinemas employees will undergo daily health screening and will be seen wearing PPE gear, face masks, gloves and face shields for extra protection.
Special PPE kits with masks, gloves and sanitisers have also been made available for purchase for the customers.
“The fear psychosis around COVID-19 has subsided and people are eager to come back to cinemas. We want to offer them safe experience,” Daftary said.
Another multiplex operator INOX Leisure also reopened their theatres from Thursday.
Atul Bhandarkar, Regional Director West, INOX Leisure Ltd, said they are thankful to Maharashtra government for allowing the resumption of cinema and are starting their operations at select cinemas in Mumbai, Nashik, Pune, Kolhapur and Aurangabad.
“We are completely geared up and prepared for the new normal, which would assign topmost priority to safety and hygiene,” he added.