If you are going to spend Rs 250 on a Rapid Antigen Test (accuracy reportedly not 100 per cent) to enter a mall which houses a plex because you want to see a movie, you are most unlikely to agree to bear that big hole in your pocket which would double your cost on your ticket. Even if the test in question is going to be provided free which is unlikely, how much early are you going to land up for the queue to make it to the auditorium in time?! And how will a COVID-negative test serve the purpose if it is 72 hours old?
Trade analyst Amod Mehra, when contacted, called it a Doomsday for the film business. “The multiplexes will suffer a very cruel blow with this new rule.” Distributor Ramesh Sippy said, “It’s so scary. The movie business has already touched almost rockbottom. It’s crystal clear that it will only further worsen.”
Distributor D S Bansal said that more than the ticket cost increasing is the trouble that the cinema-goer will have to now endure. “Why would anyone like to stand in a queue and undergo a test before seeing a movie? What is going to be so special in any film that he/she will happily undergo the test randomly at a mall and in all likelihood pay Rs 1,000 extra for his family and himself?”
Manoj Desai, owner of Gaiety-Galaxy-Maratha Mandir said, “I may not have a theatre inside a mall, but the pall of gloom at the multiplexes is definitely going to spill onto the single screens. Humara business bhi khatam ho jayega. ”
A source chipped in, “I don’t understand how so many makers have recently announced the release dates of their upcoming films. For all you know, there might be now further delays in release dates; the existing movie calendar may have to be reworked yet again.”
So that’s that! And, the 50 per cent occupancy permit which was expected to be stepped up in the coming days with the release dates of some big films drawing near is unlikely to happen as many places are facing fresh and stricter lockdowns. Worse, imagine the chaos at the plexes and malls if the public indeed lines up to face the test. “Sad but true, the second wave looks more dangerous. And the Rapid Antigen Test is certainly not going to be free. I don’t think that even the very rich people would pay so much extra just to reach to their seat inside a theatre. Forget increasing the 50 per cent capacity at least for now unless there is a massive turnaround for the better in March itself, Punjab just reduced it from 100 per cent to 50 per cent, ” concluded trade analyst Komal Nahata.