Bengal theatre owners write to Mamata for allowing full occupancy

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Kolkata, Jan 6 (PTI) Citing huge losses and 'no instance of the spread of COVID-19 through cinema halls', owners of single-screen theatres in West Bengal have shot off a letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urging her to allow full occupancy in the halls.

The theatre owners, in a letter sent to Banerjee on Tuesday evening, said that they have suffered huge losses while complying with the rule of 50 per cent occupancy in cinemas since the reopening of the establishments in the third week of October.

'There has been no report on the spread of the pandemic by way of screening of films in cinema halls in and around the country since the time the halls reopened,' the letter signed by Eastern India Motion Pictures Association (EIMPA) president Piya Sengupta said.

She said theatre owners are suffering huge losses as no new Bengali or Hindi films are being released due to the occupancy restrictions.

'If the occupancy restrictions are relaxed, several Bengali and Hindi movies waiting in the pipeline will be released and exhibitors may be benefited and get a chance to survive,' the letter read.

The letter referred to a notification issued by the Tamil Nadu government, which allowed full occupancy in cinemas with adherence to the COVID-19 protocol.

Ajanta theatre owner and EIMPA office-bearer Ratan Saha had earlier said that many cinema hall owners are regretting their decision to reopen theatres in October last year as several releases since Durga Puja and the passage of Christmas-New Year season have failed to draw the audience.

Arijit Dutta, the owner of Priya Cinema, had said that the iconic theatre did not witness more than five per cent occupancy during the Christmas-New Year season.

Striking a different note, Navina Cinema owner Navin Chokhani, however, said, 'I will welcome the increasing of theatre occupancy to 100 per cent only when I am sure that it won't affect the safety of our audience and employees.' 'If that is not possible now, we should wait for a few more months for the pandemic to subside fully,' he said.

Chokhani said Navina Cinema has registered 10 times lesser turnout this Christmas-New Year season as compared to previous years, but expressed hope that the situation will change. PTI SUS ACD ACD