Theatres and multiplexes have been allowed to resume under the guidelines of Unlock Phase 5. Cinema halls, which closed since March, will now operate under strict social distancing rules. While states like Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh are set to resume their theatre experience, others like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have decided to keep their theatres closed for the time being, due to rising number of COVID19 cases.
Since all film shooting had also paused due to the pandemic, no new movie releases will be seen in theatres for a while. So what you can book are mostly blockbusters like Thappad and Tanhaji which had released in the beginning of the year, and a few new releases like The Spy. Theatre chains are hoping that new releases will come out closer to Diwali.
As cinema halls open today, on October 16, here's what to expect when you go to watch your first film in a hall in ages.
The safety protocols mandated by the Union government include keeping a distance of one seat in auditoriums, mandatory masks, adequate ventilation and maintaining AC temperatures between 24 and 30 degrees.
The maximum theatre occupancy has been capped at 50%, so expect less people around you. Seats will be marked to ensure social distancing is automatically maintained inside the theatre hall.
Many theatre houses have restricted show timings from 12 to 8 pm.
Bookings at multiplexes are digital with e-tickets. And they have introduced self-check in with QR codes.
You have to order your food and beverages online too. Your tickets and food items will be super sanitised. Your popcorn will be sterilised with UV rays for all of eight minutes before it's handed over in a paper lid-covered container.
All hall staff will be provided with safety gear. Of course, you will get a thermal screening at the entrance. And be asked to apply hand sanitiser. Or you could carry your own brand (it's safer) and show it to the staff.
In Kolkata, with the Durga Puja week coming up soon, theatre owners will be releasing new Bengali films after opening cinemas from October 21 or 22.