Theatres screen Hollywood titles to lure audiences back as Delhi unlocks

With QR-code ticket scanning, temperature scanner and spray-on hand sanitiser dispenser, PVR Premiere takes every step to ensure that filmgoers feel safe in Covid times.

There was a nervous excitement amongst the staff at PVR Premiere, Select City Walk — one of the most popular cinema multiplexes in the Delhi NCR region — as they geared up to welcome patrons back to the theatre after a gap of almost three months owing to Covid-19, albeit at 50 per cent capacity, as ordered by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA).

The usually crowded cinema hall bore a deserted look on Friday afternoon as a few filmgoers trickled in. A ‘no-touch admission system’ that comprised a QR-code ticket scanning greeted them. With a fancy temperature scanner and a spray-on hand sanitiser dispenser, PVR Premiere was taking every measure to get the message across that the filmgoers are safe and they should be comfortable to head back to theatres. Big standees declared that all the staff at the PVR outlets were vaccinated.

The almost 400-seater hall, with alternate seating in place, had about 12 people seated, waiting to watch Mortal Kombat, a martial arts fantasy film based on the eponymous video game. The film was released globally in April. “Normally such Hollywood films, with lots of action and thrills, generally have packed halls. But as you can see, there are merely 10-12 people. I hope once the word gets out that we are open for business, the filmgoers will come back,” said a PVR employee.

This week PVR is screening a bouquet of big Hollywood titles, like Kong Vs. Godzilla, The Mauritanian, The Father and War With Grandpa. All these have been released in the last year, and some are also available on OTT platforms in India. The lone Hindi offering was Mumbai Saga, starring John Abraham. The film was released in India in March.

Mortal Kombat, a film that is heavy with special effects and edge-of-the-seat thrills, can be best enjoyed with the surround sound and larger-than-life screen of a film hall. “I had played the video game. I wasn’t too sure about the film. But as there was nothing else to see, this was better than nothing,” shares Ramit, who had come to watch the film with his friend Saqib.

The lone family in the cinema halls were the Singhs, a family of four, “We used to watch films very frequently, especially as we live close by. But all that stopped last year, and even when theatres opened last year, we were a bit hesitant. Now, with vaccinations etc in place, we decided to come back,” says Karanbir Singh, who had got his four-year-old daughter, his wife and mother in tow to watch the film. “I am not too happy with the film. Hopefully, some good films will be released soon”.

The staff at the theatre revealed that there were no takers for the morning show. “Usually for such titles, even the morning shows on a weekend are booked. But on a Friday afternoon, the theatre was almost empty,” said an usher at the theatre. “Things are yet to go back to normal. Everything is affected. Look, even the snacks kiosk is empty. People are not even eating popcorn in a hall,” he adds. The theatre is expected to screen other pre-released titles until a new Hindi film is ready for release.

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