Reeling under COVID-19 impact, Multiplex Association seeks waiver of rent
The Multiplex Association of India (MAI), an all India body formed under the aegis of FICCI in 2000, has appealed to all landlords across the country to waive off rent and common area maintenance (CAM) for all the multiplex operators during the period of closure ordered by the Government due to the spread of COVID-19.
In an official statement issued by MAI, its President, Deepak Asher, said, “Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent shutdown of the entire cinema industry across the country on account of lockdown measures announced by the Government, our industry is going through an unprecedented crisis that threatens our very existence. As compared to some other businesses, which have seen a revenue drop, multiplex revenues have overnight become zero. This has put us in a very grim situation as we struggle to meet our commitments to pay our staff salaries on time and meet our fixed overheads.”
He further said, “With zero revenues, we have virtually no ability to pay any rent or CAM dues or meet our other fixed overheads.”
MAI envisages that while the lockdown might continue for the next month or two, the cinema industry would take several months (“recuperating period”) even after the lockdown is lifted, to get back to its feet, as the pipeline of content begins to flow again, and patrons gain the confidence to step out of their homes and start visiting crowded places like cinemas.
“We seek your support in granting us complete waiver from payment of rent & CAM dues during the lockdown and recuperating period, to help us tide over this unprecedented situation which is completely beyond our control,” the MAI statement urged.
Asher added, “We will be unable to survive as an industry through this period of lockdown and recuperating, without your support.”
He further said that this temporary relief was being sought till normalisation of the situation to ensure that the cinema industry across the country did not die an instant death, leaving a significant impact on shopping malls across the country, millions of lost jobs and unwanted litigation.
Asher reminded the landowners that the Multiplex Industry has played a critical role in the success of shopping centers and malls across the country. “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 common area maintenance to our partners, the mall owners,” he added.
As is known, in a drastic step to curb the spread of Coronavirus, various State Governments vide issue of several circulars/ notifications, had directed the closure of cinema halls in various States between March 11 and 16, 2020 for a temporary period, till March 31. Subsequently, on March 24, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown, with effect from March 25 to April 14.