On October 15, cinemas halls across 14 states and union territories will open their doors to movie buffs. While movie goers may have some apprehensions about stepping in to the auditoriums, PVR’s joint managing director Sanjeev Kumar Bijli in an interview to Jyotika Sood assures that it will be safe for one and all to get back to the movies. Edited excerpts:
Q) How many PVRs are going to open on October 15?
As of now 14 states and union territories have allowed us to open our auditoriums. We are currently present in 21 states and UTs. From October 15 we will be reopening 496 screens out of the total 845 screens we have.
Q) How safe will the PVR cinemas be for public viewing?
Protocols provided by the Ministry of Health and Home Affairs are very well thought of. We will follow 50% seating capacity to ensure social distancing norms are maintained. Temerature checks will be conducted at the entrance with hand sanitiser provisions. Gloves and masks will also be provided. Auditoriums will be sanitised before every show. Toilets will also be sanitized at regular intervals. The temperature inside the premises will be maintained between 24 degrees to 27 degree Celsius which will help to reduce the spread of the virus. By the nature of business, we have two advantages. One, since the auditoriums’ ceilings are 11-12 metres high, there is ample ventilation. Secondly, in the cinema halls, people don’t need to talk to each other during the screening. So, this should help us as well. We also have a very effective safety and hygiene protocol in place.
Q) What are protocols to deal with families and large groups?
Families are also required to maintain social distance inside the premises. Kids below the age of 10 years and senior citizens above the age of 65 years won’t be allowed for film viewing as per the government protocol.
Q) What kind of concessions should audience look expect from PVR to encourage them to throng the auditoriums?
We are looking at various promotions. Since new content may not come immediately. We are looking at putting films which are priced very low. Packaging Pepsi and Popcorn together, more points to membership base, giving more discounts. We are working on all this and will be announced very shortly so that people are incentivized to come.
Q) But with just 50% capacity, won't the movie tickets cost higher?
Our ticket prices are always reasonable. Our ticket pricing has been based on block buster and non-block buster movie categories. Since there is no immediate block buster therefore pricing of tickets will be lower. And the rerun of the old films will be also be cheaper.
Q) Do you think OTTs are going to give a competition to multiplexes now?
It’s unfair to compare the two, since we were shut. If a player is out of action, how do you rate him? We were completely out of action for the last seven months and the producers have the prerogative to monetize the product to the OTT platforms. I think most of the producers don’t make the films for small screens. Everyone right from actors to producers, musicians and technicians everybody wants to see their films on the big screen.
Q) Do you have content?
The much awaited movies 83 which is coming in December and Sooryavanshi which is coming in January will be a game changer as far as Hindi genre is concerned. We are fortunate that we are a country which has very strong regional cinema presence and there are good new films lined up in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Telangana. For a couple of months I think we have enough content and that too fresh content.
Q) By when do you expect multiplex business to be back?
I think there will be two turning points as far as business normalcy is concerned. One will be in December with the first block buster release after Covid-19 which is 83 and second will be the months of December to March and April though it will not be full capacity but good business with good footfall.
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