Movie theaters in India, which have been closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are set to partially reopen on Oct. 15, the government has announced.
India’s Ministry of Home Affairs has decreed that cinemas and multiplexes can reopen at 50 percent of their seating capacity, a full month before the all-important Diwali holiday, which in normal times is a box office bonanza.
News of the reopening was met with immediate cheer in India’s entertainment industry. “We are very happy with this news as we have been waiting for this for quite sometime. Business has been affected so badly but I would say this is the right time to open up with Diwali around the corner,” PV Sunil, managing director at Carnival Cinemas, told the Hindustan Times.
Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan tweeted, “The best news of the week!”
The Indian government officially closed movie theaters in mid-March, even though many multiplexes had begun closing days before as the country’s cases of COVID-19 began to grow exponentially. The closure led to Bollywood studios scrambling to salvage their big release plans, and led to some hotly anticipated titles such as Amitabh Bachchan’s comedy Gulabo Sitabo, Sanjay Dutt’s drama Sadak 2 and the masala film Khaali Peeli debuting on streaming sites.
The reopening will also be encouraging news for Hollywood, with Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, which filmed key scenes in Mumbai and stars Indian actress Dimple Kapadia, now set to see a theatrical release in the country.
At 6.3 million, India presently has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, just behind the U.S. However, the country’s infection rate has slowed in recent weeks.
The best news of the week!!!! 😁🕺🏽 https://t.co/ysKoB5RMs0
— Abhishek Bachchan (@juniorbachchan) September 30, 2020