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Bollywood seeks to lift fortunes as cinemas reopen

Mumbai: In India, millions of movie lovers are waiting for cinemas to reopen this week after a seven-month-long, pandemic-induced halt.

Nearly 10,000 movie theaters around the country closed in mid-March following coronavirus restrictions; on Thursday cinemas became one of the last few categories of public building to reopen, according to media reports.

While cinemas have opened in dozens of countries around the world including the US and the UK, India’s restart comes just weeks ahead of Diwali, a time when the biggest films line up for box office release.

But with 7 million people in India infected with the coronavirus — the second largest outbreak in the world — doubts remain over whether audiences will fill the 50% restricted-capacity halls and if that will boost the country’s prodigious movie-making industry, reports Bloomberg.

BookMyShow is rating cinemas and multiplexes on safety indicators such as daily temperature checks for staff and the availability of pre-packed food and beverages.

Meanwhile, cinema owners worry whether growing online audiences have permanently swapped big screens for smartphones and TVs. Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. have acquired dozens of movie titles starring the industry’s biggest names for their streaming services after prolonged cinema closures.

Amazon snagged mega Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan’s quirky comedy Gulabo Sitabo and the biopic Shakuntala Devi, starring Vidya Balan.

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar, whose box-office influence over both urban and small-town crowds is unparalleled, announced that his dark comedy Laxxmi Bomb would be released on Disney+ Hotstar.

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