Statutory licences, maintenance must for theatres, owners told

Stringent norms, low ticket rates make operations unviable, say exhibitors

The district administration has directed all theatre owners to get statutory licences from municipal authorities, Fire and other departments as early as possible in order to continue to screen movies.

Following the administration’s directive, officials sealed TBR Hall in Parvatipuram, Saikrishna theatre in Pusapati Rega, Gopala Krishna theatre-Bhogapuram, S-3 theatre in Nellimarla a few days ago. It was observed that Sai Krishna theatre failed to renew fire safety licenses for the last five years. Lack of cleanliness, and sale of tickets at higher prices are also other reasons for sealing the theatres.

Senior officials, including Collector A. Suryakumari, Joint Collector G.C. Kishore Kumar and Parvatipuram Sub-Collector Bhavana, who are inspecting theatres, said licenses and proper maintenance were statutory irrespective of losses and profit of theatres.

“The government will not compromise on the safety of people. Cleanliness and arrangements to ensure social distancing are important to prevent spread of coronavirus,” said A.Suryakumari.

Expressing disappointment over the stringent norms, the exhibitors said that they would not be in a position to run the theatres for long if the restriction on ticket rates continues.

The ticket rates were fixed between ₹5 and ₹20 in gram panchayats and go up to ₹35 in nagar panchayats.

In municipal areas, ticket rates were fixed between ₹30 and ₹100. The multiplex theatre owners can collect between ₹75 and ₹250 on each ticket.

“We need at least ₹3.5 lakh per month for the maintenance of theatres in rural areas and ₹4 lakh in urban areas. With the advent of OTT platforms, occupancy ratio has come down significantly, leading to a drop in revenue. Four theatre owners have already converted their cinema halls into commercial complexes in Vizianagaram. The government should look into the grievances of the exhibitors since they provide huge employment directly and indirectly,” said Narayanam Srinivas, Vizianagaram Cine Exhibitors Association president.

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