Film industry insiders lament missing yet another Eid film bonanza

Tanzil Rahaman | Published: 21:34, Jul 30,2020


A front view of Azad Cinema Hall without film posters. — Sony Ramany

Eid is the season for film business bonanza as cinemas draw huge number of filmgoers during the festival, but this year’s Eid-ul-Azha will be yet another missed opportunity after Eid-ul-Fitr. Cinemas across the country will remain close as the government didn’t give permission to reopen halls and no films will be released on the occasion.

Industry insiders said that they were looking forward to doing some business on Eid-ul-Azha after they failed to reap any benefit during the last Eid-ul-Fitr and Bengali New Year.

The estimated loss is TK 500 crore for the entire industry, said industry insiders.

Cinema owners said that though they applied to the authority concern to reopen cinemas, the government didn’t give the permission to run films in cinemas amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Deputy secretary of ministry of commerce Abdul Awal, also the administrator of cinemas, said, ‘We are not reopening the cinemas on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha across the country due to the COVID-19 epidemic. We are waiting for permission from the cabinet division. If the situation improves, we will reopen cinemas.’

Bangladesh Film Director’s Association president Mushfiqur Rahman Gulzar said, ‘Every year between four and five films are released in cinemas across the country during Eid and other occasions. But, as new films can’t be released until cinemas reopen, this stalemate is very frustrating for everyone associated with the film industry. I believe cinemas could operate following the COVID-19 health guidelines. I hope the authorities concerned will look into the matter.’

Bangladesh Film Producer’s Association president, Khorshed Alam Khasru, pointed out, ‘We have sent two letters to the administrator of cinemas to reopen cinemas following the health directives but we are yet to receive any response. He informed us that the letter has been forwarded to the cabinet division for approval.’

‘Producers are going through a tough time. They invested a healthy amount of money in many big-budget films eyeing Pahela Baishakh, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha celebrations but none were released as cinemas across the country were shutdown in March,’ he continued.

‘The film industry has incurred an estimated loss of around Tk 500 crore after cinemas across the country were shut down to contain the spread of COVID-19. I urge the government to consider reopening the cinemas to save the people associated with the industry,’ added Khorshed Alam Khasru.

Reflecting on how the closure of cinemas is hurting the industry, Mezbah Uddin Ahmed, senior marketing manager at Star Cineplex, said, ‘Such huge revenue losses since March will have a drastic impact. We operate several branches which draw a large number of people during both Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha. We were looking forward to recovering losses by screening films during Eid-ul-Azha but unfortunately the government did not give permission for reopening the cinemas. I hope the government will give it a second thought and give the green light to reopen cinemas after Eid.’

Madhumita Cinema Hall owner Iftekhar Uddin Nawshad said, ‘Cinema owners have been counting losses since cinemas across the country were shut down to contain the spread of COVID-19 in March. We suffered huge financial losses during the Eid-ul-Fitr and were looking forward to opening our halls on Eid-ul-Azha but could not follow through as the government did not permit us. Cinemas across the country will suffer a collective revenue loss of Tk 100 crore this Eid.’

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