The Kerala government on Friday announced that it will allow the re-opening of theaters in the state from January 5 onwards. However, the theaters must follow COVID-19 protocols, including 50 per cent cap on the occupancy.
The announcement comes as a big relief to the Malayalam film industry, which has suffered due to the disruption caused by the pandemic. According to reports, top offices of the Kerala film chambers have planned to meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday to seek the government’s support, including tax exemption and concession on the electricity bill.
The delegation of theater owners was not able to meet the government owing to code of conduct that was in place for the recently concluded panchayat polls.
Last October, theaters across the country were allowed to re-open with 50 per cent seating capacity and other safety protocols in place. However, the Kerala government remained firm on its stance and did not allow the resumption of film exhibition. About 670 theaters in the state remained shut since last March.
The government’s decision comes at a critical time given that Vijay’s much-anticipated film master is set to release on January 13. Vijay enjoys a huge fan following in Kerala, and the stakeholders hope that it will bring back the cheers to the box office, which has been gathering dust for about 10 months now.
The Kerala distribution rights of Master have been bagged by actor Prithviraj and producer Listin Stephen. And it is going to be a herculean task for theater owners to prepare for the re-opening with COVID protocols in place within the next two weeks.