In the absence of new content offerings, from Bollywood in particular, approximately 1,500 to 2,000 theatre screens across India could be closed permanently over the next few weeks.
The predicament is likely to continue as Bollywood is not keen to release any new movies until people start to step out and return to cinema halls.
Several trade experts have also said that single screens, owned independently, are not hopeful of continuing the business. This is because the top actors, directors, and producers, who owe much of their fame to small-towns, have taken over their movies directly to video streaming platforms over the past few months.
Furthermore, the majority of people in urban areas and metro cities have been cautious of getting out of their homes in the wake of rising coronavirus cases across the country.
With things starting to take a turn for the worse, five single-screen theatres were permanently shut down in Hyderabad last week. Around 45% of India's movie screens decided not to reopen even after the government permission came in early October, the Mint reported earlier. The reason being the dearth of new and fresh content coupled with piling costs on disinfecting and sanitisation in the theatres.
Meanwhile, two big Bollywood films, that are ready for release - Akshay Kumar's sports drama '83 and Sooryavanshi, have both been slated to be out in the first half of 2021 for now.
"Film-makers don't realise there will hardly be any cinema left until then to play their films, so they will not be able to reap any result on these big titles that they're holding back," Bihar-based exhibitor Vishek Chauhan told the publication.
He added that only 45 out of the 200 cinema halls in Bihar have resumed operations since the government's permission came in, but several of them are holding back, mulling shutting shop permanently.
Around five companies have already folded up and sold their properties, the news report added. According to the Ficci-EY media and entertainment industry report 2020, India has a total of 9,527 movie screens, as of 2019, comprising 6,327 single screens and 3,200 multiplexes.