Reality trumps escapism

New Delhi cinemas shut down after bombings

The Indian government closed moviehouses after a wave of bombings hit the capital Saturday.

Cinemas, which have been targets for bombers in the recent past, reopened Sunday.

The five blasts killed 21 people and injured 90 at popular shopping locations.

New Delhi went on high alert in the aftermath of the bombings, which began about 6:30 p.m. As security agencies cordoned off the affected areas, a bomb was defused near the Regal Cinema in the central business and shopping district of Connaught Place. The Regal is one of the city's oldest movie theaters.

Movie attendance was down throughout India during the weekend, resulting in a loss of $1.5 million-$2.2 million, according to industry estimates cited Monday by the Economic Times.

"We saw a drop of about 30% in occupancy levels given that average weekend levels are about 80%," Rahul Singh, senior vp operations at New Delhi-based PVR, which runs more than 100 screens nationwide, said Monday.

News channels disrupted normal programming to feature nonstop coverage of the bombings.

Under stepped-up security Monday, the city was slowly returning to normal. "Despite the tragedy, people will not be deterred by such incidents, and we are confident that cinema attendance will also pick up in the days to come," Singh said.

Minutes before the first blast, a group called the Indian Mujahideen sent an e-mail to media outlets claiming responsibility.

In July, the Indian Mujahideen claimed responsibility for bombings that killed 45 in the western city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat state.

Seven people were killed in October at a packed Indian cinema north of the capital. In May 2005, two cinemas inside the city were bombed, killing one and injuring more than 40. (partialdiff)