05 April 2020
New Delhi: With screening of films suspended, the Multiplex Association of India (MAI) has urged malls and their developers to waive rent dues and common area maintenance (CAM) charges during the lockdown and the recuperating period.
"We seek your support in granting us waiver from payment of rent and CAM dues during the lockdown and the recuperating period, to help us tide over this unprecedented situation that is beyond our control. We are seeking this temporary relief to ensure that the cinema industry does not die an instant death, making significant impact on shopping malls, job losses and unwanted litigation," the MAI said in a statement.
"We look forward, as always, for your support as our trusted partner till the normalisation of situation, which will also help resume our operations the earliest," said MAI president Deepak Asher. Even after the lockdown, normal resumption of business would take some time, he added.
"While the lockdown may continue for the next month or two, the cinema industry will take several months (cuperating period) to get back to its feet as the content pipeline begins to flow again and our patrons gain the confidence to step out of their homes and start visiting crowded places, like cinemas. We will be unable to survive as an industry through this period, without your support," the MAI said.
The MAI is an all-India body, set up in 2000 under the aegis of FICCI. It represents more than 18 regional and national multiplex chains. Its members operate more than 600 multiplexes with over 2,900 screens across the country.
Stressing the struggle of the industry, it said, "Due to the outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent shutdown of the cinema industry on account of lockdown announced by the government, the industry is going through an unprecedented crisis that threatens our very existence.
"Compared with some other businesses that too have seen a revenue drop, multiplex revenues have overnight become zero. This has put us in a grim situation as we struggle to meet commitments to pay our staff salaries and fixed overheads.
"The multiplex industry has been a prominent and long-term partner to all of you and has played a critical role in the success of shopping centres and malls. Though we have seen many highs and lows in our business, over the past 20 years, we have never defaulted on our commitments to pay rent and CAM to the mall owners. But with zero revenues, we have virtually no ability to pay any rent or CAM dues or meet our other fixed overheads," it said.
Meanwhile, many multiplexes and single screens are strategising to prevent any footfall dip once it opens.
Lesser shows, cross allocation of seating in theatres, possible limiting of number of tickets sold per show, and prevention of crowding in the lobby are a few things the cinema chains hope to implement, besides provision of masks and ready thermometers at the cineplexes.