COVID-19 has hit the cinema exhibitors very hard and the majority of them are not in a position to begin their operations unless some of their financial burdens get reduced. The Central government permitted the opening of cinema halls from October 15, but none of the theatres opened on Thursday, waiting for a word from the State government.
V. Mega Talkies (Triveni) manager Surendra Kumar says abiding by the COVID-19 norms after reopening will not be a big challenge as most of the theatres used to run at 20% occupancy on an average for most days except for the first three days of release - Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
On Thursday and Friday, the theatre owners began the exercise of getting the halls cleaned and keeping the premises ready for movie releases, and some companies even offered concessional rates on weekly charges to be paid, but the movie shows did not resume.
In Anantapur district, 76 cinema halls were fully functional before the lockdown, but each of them has huge amounts due towards electricity bills since April, running into lakhs of rupees for those who have High Tension (HT) connections. The triple screen Triveni- Taringini- Tejaswini, the biggest multiplex in Anantapur, too has a huge bill pending, according to Mr. Kumar.
Smaller non-AC theatres are in the Commercial (LT) category, for whom the minimum charges are lower.
While the State cine exhibitors association has represented to the Chief Minister seeking a waiver of power bills or concession for the pandemic period, a decision was not taken till October 15 night.
For those in the MSME category, two months deferment was announced for industries, as the minimum amount due for an HT connection with 100 kva load is close to 75,000 per month even if not used, says APSPDCL Superintending Engineer D.S. Varakumar.