Vijayawada: Screening of films is likely to be stopped shortly due to spread of Covid-19 and lack of patronage from viewers in Andhra Pradesh.
A majority of the 1,250 film theatres in the state had reopened after the caseload of the virus subsided, but with the number of cases rising in the second wave, film exhibitors are planning to stop screening of films. A film theatre in Rajahmundry with 446 seats used to get an average collection of Rs 40,000 per show. At present, it is getting just Rs 5,000 per show, indicating a steep decline in patronage from filmgoers.
Film exhibitor A. Satyarnayana said, “Collections at the box office have come down drastically as the number of people turning up at the theatres is coming down due to fear of Covid-19 and also due to lack of good films. With no proper collections, we are unable to operate the theatres as we have to pay entertainment tax, power charges and wages to our staff.”
Film distributor from Vintage Creations Private Limited J.K. Ramakrishna said, “Except the film Vakeel Saab and a few small-budget films, there are no films to be screened in the theatres. This is causing the exhibitors to stop screening the films and close the theatres at least to save costs on their operation.”
Though actor Naga Chaitanya starring big-budget film Love Story and a few small-budget films are ready for release, they are not being released fearing lack of patronage from viewers.
Some film production and distribution companies like Suresh Productions have stopped screening of films in theatres owned by him or under their control in parts of the state.
The state government’s recent order on fixing ticket rates in film theatres seems to be have affected exhibitors as they claim that 12 per cent GST on entertainment tax and power tariff remain unchanged for a theatre in a rural area and a multiplex in an urban centre. They say that as it is becoming unfeasible to operate theatres, they intend to close them. They even appealed to the state to revise the rates to make it viable to operate theatres.
Telugu Film Chamber secretary K.L Damodar Prasad said, “Prevalence of Covid pandemic, lack of content and patronage even for the existing films from the viewers, is causing closure of film theatres. If the state government issues any direction, screening of films will be stopped as it is public health which is paramount rather than business.”...