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New Delhi: The Telangana government has allowed movie theatres to operate at 100% capacity after similar decisions in Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The home and information and broadcasting ministries had issued guidelines in this regard last week.

Higher occupancy spells good news for southern states which are considered more movie-crazy than the north and the fan culture is evident in how people have flocked to watch Tamil film Mersal recently.

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“The government has acted in a timely and decisive fashion, having listened to our point of view. This is likely to be a huge shot in the arm for film business and help several producers line up their movies for theatrical release," Kamal Gianchandani, chief executive officer, PVR Pictures said.

Late last month, a film industry delegation led by Gianchandani and Sanjeev Kumar Bijli, joint managing director of PVR Ltd, among others, along with actor and BJP MP Sunny Deol had met union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and union minister of information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar to consider what they deemed necessities to help the ailing sector. The relaxation of the 50% capacity limit was a key demand.

The Indian film industry stares at several grave challenges in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic that has led to the permanent shutdown of over a thousand screens across the country last year. Film business in India is expected to contract by 67% over FY21, according to a recent KPMG report.

Trade analysts have emphasized that a revision in seating capacity will be a big positive for cinema and lead to release date announcements for large Hindi films. Given that it takes a minimum of three weeks of marketing for big-ticket Hindi film to hit screens, a major star vehicle like Akshay Kumar’s Sooryavanshi could arrive in cinemas for the Holi weekend. While regional industries, including those in the south, have been lining up films for theatrical release banking on fan base in their native states, Bollywood producers have so far waited for pan-India theatre reopenings and revision in seating capacity limits.

“Even if producers have visibility of 70% of the states opening up with 100% occupancy, they will start announcing dates in the coming weeks for other films," Karan Taurani, research analyst at Elara Capital Ltd said.

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