Tamil Nadu government allows 100 per cent occupancy in theatres ahead of Master, Eeswaran release
The move comes as a response to the request that was laid down by the Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners Association
The state government of Tamil Nadu has permitted to increase the seating capacity in theatres from 50% to 100%. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only 50% occupancy was allowed as per the government's Standard Operating Procedure for theatres, and this new relaxation comes just weeks before Master and Eeswaran are set to hit the theatres for the Pongal festival.
The move comes as a response to the request that was laid down by the Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners Association, based on the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases in the state. Notably, earlier reports had suggested that Vijay had requested the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Edappadi K Palaniswami, to allow full occupancy in theatres ahead of his upcoming Master.
Welcoming the decision, producer G Dhananjayan says, "We have been striving for this move for a long time, and the industry should thank Vijay for being the catalyst. When the political rallies are happening with the thousands in attendance, what's wrong with having a theatre open which can only house a fraction of that number."
Rakesh Gowthaman, the proprietor of Vettri Theatre, says he was surprised by the government's decision. “I thought they’ll allow 75%, and now because of this, I’ll have to add more staff and do more arrangements for the same, as the theatre was designed only for 50%.
Echoing Dhananjayan's statement, Rakesh says that all the industries should be treated equally, "Why are political gatherings and weddings allowed now? There are some 5000 people gathering for a wedding. If you’re giving 50% occupancy to one industry, do the same for all industries. Cinema theatres is a soft spot for people, and so they criticise the industry just to get some traction."
The official order by the government also states that "in order to create awareness among the spectators, the precautionary measures for COVID-19 shall also be screened during the showtime." Even as the occupancy is increased, the COVID-19 rules and regulations will have to be maintained in theatres.
However, will the theatres be able to implement the necessary precautions for a movie like Master, where fan frenzy is par for the course? Dhananjayan argues, "It is given that in the first week, theatres are going to be packed by fans. They can afford to go because most of them are youngsters. The FDFS celebrations are for them. A normal person can go later when the frenzy has settled down. At the end of the days, it is an individual's choice."
With two big releases coming to the screen for this Pongal festival, the development sure comes as an early treat to the fans, theatre owners, distributors, and producers.