Sandalwood Braces Itself As State Announces New Theatre Occupancy Guidelines

The past two years have been a taxing period for the Kannada Film Industry. During the course, many film releases have been delayed and productions have had to be stalled due to the repeated onset of the coronavirus pandemic. While filmmakers have steadily grown prudent and adjusted to the bizarreness of it all, many other components of the industry are struggling to cope with such a tricky situation.

And now, just as the Kannada Film Industry regains some of its lost momentum through a great box office run over the past couple of months, the pandemic seems to have taken a new shape to play spoilsport. With the onslaught of the new Omicron variant already on its way, the government of Karnataka has cited early precaution and released a new set of guidelines for the general public which, just as in the past, significantly affect the theatre occupancy rates.

The new set of guidelines released on the 3rd of January direct cinema halls, multiplexes, auditoriums, etc. to operate at 50% occupancy for, at least, a two-week period. As per the statement issued, the new restrictions are to come into effect on the 5th of January (10 pm onwards) and shall remain in place till January 19th. Alongside, cinema halls shall allow entry only to those who are fully vaccinated.

Two Kannada films are slated to release during the aforementioned period – namely, ‘DNA’ and ‘Ganduli’. The Telugu pan-Indian film ‘Radhe Shyam’, starring Prabhas and Pooja Hegde, was to release on the 14th of January but the makers have postponed the release indefinitely due to the surge in Covid-19 cases. The release of S.S. Rajamouli’s epic film ‘RRR’, slated to originally come out on Jan 7th, too has been delayed due to the same reason.

Although the new guidelines are in effect only for a period of two weeks, one can expect the state to continue with them until there is considerable respite. Films like ‘Gajanana and Gang’, ‘Old Monk’, ‘Love Mocktail 2’, and ‘Vikrant Rona’ are already scheduled to release in February of this year and it is now a matter of time to judge how they fare during this tough phase.

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