The film industry is faced with huge losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While other businesses are adapting to the new normal and reopening gradually, the cinema theatres of our country are still shut.
Mahboob Rahman, Chairman of Star Cineplex, the first multiplex of the country, presided over a press conference at their SKS Tower branch in Mohakhali DOHS recently, seeking assistance for the survival of the multiplex in Bangladesh.
Star Cineplex established new branches in 2018 and 2019, and they were planning to launch their branch in Mirpur this year. Unfortunately, they have been closed for the last five months, generating no income.
"We cannot cut costs any further by layoffs or interest reduction. If we don't open the theatres now and receive government assistance, we might have to shut down for good," added Mahboob Rahman. "Cinema theatres have reopened in many countries around the world, including China, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia. They are also scheduled to reopen in India this month. Additionally, governments of different countries are providing financial assistance to compensate for the losses in cultural and entertainment fields."
The seven-point demands that he raised at the conference were:
1. The theatres should be opened to the public immediately following health regulations
2. Urgent financial assistance from the government
3. Alleviate all taxes on movie tickets
4. Approve interest-free loans
5. Relieve restrictions on importing films in South Asian languages
6. Allow Star Cineplex to pay half the rent to the shopping mall authorities till things go back to normal
7. Producers' Guild should allow the release of new films that have been cleared by the censor board; so audiences come back to the theatres
Apart from these demands, Mahboob Rahman pled for the remission of theatre rents during the pandemic and proposed to pay half the rents going forward, till things get back on track.