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Cinemas in North Karnataka to remain shut

Although the State government permitted reopening of single screen cinemas and multiplexes on Thursday in accordance with the Unlock 5.0 guidelines, cinemas across North Karnataka remained shut following a decision by film exhibitors against reopening them.

This is in accordance with the decision taken by the Karnataka Film Exhibitors Federation (KFEF) on not screening films till the government fulfilled its demands, including changes in the renewal fee and others. KFEF has around 500 members spread across North Karnataka.

KFEF president Rangangouda R. Odugouda has said that KFEF was forced to take the decision as the government had hiked renewal fee by manifolds. The renewal fee, which used to be ₹ 5,000 annually, had now been hiked to ₹ 1.25 lakh per year.

In the present system, cinema owners have to pay in advance and non-refundable amount to film producers to which KFEF has taken exception.

Mr. Odugoudar told The Hindu that they would want a system wherein exhibitors and film producers have a “win-win” situation by running shows on percentage basis.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 safety protocols are also likely to increase the maintenance cost of the cinemas. As per the advisory, cinemas have to be sanitised after every show, social distancing has to be maintained, and occupancy should be only 50 % of the total seats.

He said that so far there had been no communication either from the government or from the producers association on their demands. He made it clear that unless their demands were met, they would not screen films.

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