On Friday, Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai lifted the restriction on occupancy in movie halls, effective October 1.
Films like Salaga, Kotigobba 3 and Bhajarangi 2 have all been waiting for 100% theatre occupancy
Ever since movie halls reopened after the second wave of the pandemic, occupancy was restricted to 50%, made worse by night curfews in several key districts, forcing film teams to wait for the situation to change. There are currently quite a few films ready for release, including many from 2019 that were set for an early 2020 theatrical outing but couldn’t owing to the pandemic, as well as the newer ones that were made since then.
With an OTT release still not a viable option for most Kannada filmmakers, they have been holding on to their films in the hope of relaxations coming in place and theatres opening at full capacity. There have been rumours in the industry for a while that the government would make an announcement shortly after the Ganesha Chaturthi festival. It’s taken a fortnight longer, but their much-awaited wish has been granted. Starting October 1, theatre halls in districts where COVID positivity remains under one per cent will function at full capacity.
The move is believed to have been an outcome of a recent meeting of industry stakeholders with state health minister K Sudhakaran. Their contention has been that while relaxations are in force in pretty much every other industry, showbiz was the only one still with restrictions, which seemed unfair to the industry, which has already been severely crippled by the pandemic.
While a slew of Kannada films is ready for release, industry insiders believe that big-ticket releases like Bhajarangi 2, Kotigobba 3, Salaga, Vikrant Rona, etc., will lead the revival of the theatre culture among audiences. There have been rumours of proposed release dates for these films, but those will now be firmed up and officially announced in the coming days.