Shreyas Kulkarni

PVR shows us the cinema-going experience in the COVID-era

From one-seat gap to deep cleaning after every show, it's PVR's way of reassuring audiences that it's safe to visit cinema halls when they reopen.

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent lockdown have hit the box office, cinema halls, and India’s film fraternity quite hard. The box office has been shut for months. There was a ban on any kind of shooting/filming during lockdown. Even now, when the lockdown has been eased in many parts of the country, the rules mandate cinema halls to remain shut.

Now, PVR, one of India's leading cinema hall chains, has released a video that shows what the movie watching experience will be like in the COVID age. The cinema halls may open soon and, through this video, PVR aims to reassure audiences that its halls are safe, and will continue to provide an enjoyable experience.

Called 'PVR Cares' (it sounds similar to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'PM Cares Fund'), here's how your next visit to a PVR hall will look like:

1. There will be an enhanced safety shield for the cashier at the box office, with stress on contactless payments.

2. Sale of PPE suits, and one-time use 3D glasses.

3. There will be social distancing floor markers at all areas.

4. No pat-down checks, but mandated temperature screenings.

5. Hand sanitisation stations placed at all important locations inside the cinema hall.

6. The entire hall will be sanitised using advanced electrostatic spray guns.

7. The door handles will be coated with microshield films.

8. There will be one-seat gap in normal auditoriums, and installed gaps in premium seats to addresses social distancing concerns.

9. The auditorium will be deep cleaned after every show.

10. There will be disposable food packaging; crockery and cutlery will be disinfected using UV technology.

11. There will be separate counters for order and pick up for truncated food menu and new pre-packaged food items.

12. Fifty per cent of the facilities will be functional at any given time.

Cinema halls have had it rough not only because of their closure. They're also losing business to OTT platforms during this time.

Also Read: Films releasing on OTT: Distress selling or the birth of a new business model?

In May, Amazon Prime announced a series of films that would be released on its platform. It included 'Gulabo Sitabo', starring Amitabh Bachchan and Ayushmann Khurrana, and directed by Shoojit Sircar, and 'Shakuntala Devi', starring Vidya Balan and Jisshu Sengupta.

Speaking to afaqs! for an earlier story about the movies releasing on streaming platforms, Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures, had earlier said, "We are disappointed with some of our producers deciding to go straight to the streaming platform/s. We were hoping that the producers would accede to our request to hold back their film’s release till cinemas reopen."

We now wonder whether the cost of one-seat division and sanitisation protocols will reflect in the ticket prices, once the cinema halls reopen.

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