Indian Cinemas Reopen After 7-Month Closure

Workers of PVR cinemas, a multiplex cinema chain, sanitizes a hall during a press preview to show their preparedness with the COVID-19 pandemic in New Delhi, India, Friday, July 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup) AP

After a prolonged period of shutdown, cinemas in certain regions of India begin re-opening today.

The famously cinema-hungry nation has been deprived of physical venues since March, when it entered a serious lockdown that continues today. India is currently recording the highest global daily rate of confirmed COVID cases and has more than 7.3 million in total. However, the number of daily cases has been creeping down in the last three weeks.

Mumbai, the country’s film capital, will not see venues re-open yet as local authorities take a cautious approach; the state of Maharashtra has been the worst hit by pandemic numbers.

Cinemas that are opening will employ safety measures such as distancing, masks and temperature checks. “We have put everything into place, maybe more than what has been prescribed. The entire cinema touch points have been provided with anti-microbial films,” Gagan Kapur, regional head of the PVR Cinemas in New Delhi, told AP today.

In the absence of theaters, streaming players such as Netflix, Amazon and Disney+ Hotstar have been harvesting films previously destined for wide theatrical releases and growing in influence. Major titles to have pivoted online include Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Gulabo Sitabo, which debuted on Amazon.

As Deadline previously reported, the Indian box office could be looking at a loss of about $450M due to the lockdown.

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