By Rohit Vaid
New Delhi/Mumbai, July 10 (IANS) The COVID-19 triggered restrictions on cinema exhibition industry has not only disheartened movie goers, but axed several thousand jobs and costed the industry an estimated Rs 5,000 crore in revenue.
The sector has been one of the hardest hit due to Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent restrictions implemented to curb its spread.
Presently, cinemas and multiplexes continue to remain in the list of prohibited activities under the Centre’s Unlock 2.0 Guidelines.
In an interview to IANS, movie exhibition major Inox Leisure’s Chief Executive Alok Tandon said, “The industry on an average collects about Rs 1,000 crore a month of ‘Box Office’ and on an average generates about Rs 500 crore a month of ancillary revenues.”
“Keeping in mind that the lockdown has been effective for more than 100 days now, which is about 3.5 months, the cinema exhibition industry would have accumulated losses worth Rs 5,000 crore so far.”
According to Tandon, associated businesses such as pre and post-production, make-up artistes, graphics, film set fabrication, film crew, events, marketing, F&B services have all been impacted due to the restrictions.
“With the production and exhibition of movies coming to a halt, the industry was bound to witness some job losses,” he said without divulging any estimates.
As per industry data, the multiplex industry in India employs more than 200,000 people directly and accounts for nearly 60 per cent of revenues of the film business.
On the way forward, Tandon elaborated that the industry expects to regain business momentum and sentiment post resumption of operations.
“We believe it will be a matter of a couple of blockbusters, and we will be back to our usual operational numbers,” he said.
“We are rightfully relying on the unshakeable passion of the Indian movie lovers, who are yearning to step out and spend time enjoying the giant screen experience.”
Furthermore, he cited that industry has sent representation to the Centre for immediate re-commencement of operations and a support package.
“We have requested for financial support in the form of salary subsidies during the lockdown period, interest-free loans for three years, exemptions from various taxes and duties, like ‘GST, Show tax, LBETs and Property taxes’ for a period of one year from the date of operations, waiver on electricity minimum demand charges for one year and auto renewal of licenses and permits for the next one year,” he said.
“We have been talking to our mall developer partners and are working together with them to see through this phase.”
However, even after re-commencement, the industry anticipates at least 3-6 months before things return anywhere close to normal.
“The cinema ecosystem is such that we will need all the aspects of the business to swing into action and fire together for us to see a resurgence, and we are highly optimistic about the same,” he said.
In terms of global experience, Tandon pointed out that cinemas have started operating in more than 25 major countries, and some of those markets are witnessing a healthy response.
“India is a massive movie market and we are confident that the passionate and responsible movie lovers will turn up in huge numbers to enjoy their favourite form of entertainment and also follow the prevention guidelines at the same time, ensuring a safe and steady revival of the cinema exhibition sector,” Tandon said.
The film exhibition industry in India is mainly comprised of single screen and multiplexes.
At present there are around 9,527 cinemas across the country, including 6,327 single and 3,200 multiplex screens.
(Rohit Vaid can be contacted at [email protected])