Strong decline in occupancy and high operating costs due to the COVID-19 protocols cited as the reasons
After a surge in COVID-19 cases, curtains are back for the cinemas again and Durga Mahal in the Patamata neighborhood in the city is the last to join the list of theaters to suspend shows. Annapoorna and Sakuntala have also dropped curtains earlier and cited a similar reason.
A sharp drop in occupancy is one of the main reasons that are forcing theater owners to suspend the shows.
“It is an enormous financial burden to run the show. We have to pay salaries and taxes. In addition, we have to comply with the COVID-19 protocols, ensure an occupancy rate of only 50% and renovate the premises at regular intervals, ”it says.
Andhra Pradesh Exhibitors’ Association president Alankar Prasad said it costs a minimum of £ 10,000 a day to pay for salaries, maintenance, electricity and plumbing.
“The collections are only £ 2,000 a day. That’s why the owners are closing the theaters voluntarily, ”says Prasad.
That being said, lack of production is another major reason cinemas close their shutters.
“The distributors have stopped releasing films because they feared losses. Without a production, the exhibitors have no choice but to close the theaters, ”says RV Bhupal Prasad, owner of the Navarang Theater, where the performance will be suspended from Friday.
There are reportedly about 1,100 theaters in the state, and 60 in Vijayawada alone. On average, each theater spends £ 1.25 a month on salaries and £ 1.70 a month on electricity. Around £ 2,000 to £ 3,000 is spent on sanitation alone. Many theaters have a capacity of 500 to 600 seats. Around 50 to 70 people who work at booking counters, canteens and parking lots depend on each theater.
With the Pawan Kalyan star ‘Vakeel Saab’, which will be available on Amazon Prime Video from Friday, exhibitors fear lower visitor numbers in the cinemas in which it is shown.
Since there are no new releases in the near future, it will be a wrong decision to operate the cinemas with one or the other film, say the exhibitors.
“Before the COVID-19 outbreak, there were four or five new releases. The following lockdown has taken off the shine. Even if exhibitors are trying hard to get out of the red, the second wave of COVID-19 has hit them hard. The situation may not return to normal until January 2022, ”said Sai Prasad, secretary of the Vijayawada Exhibitors’ Association.