The central bank's board of directors has approved a Tk1,000 crore refinancing scheme for renovation and modernisation of old movie theatres and to build new ones.
The board at its 411st meeting Tuesday cleared the package, enabling cinema owners for low-cost loans.
According to the meeting agenda, the scheme has been initiated to help retrieve the golden era of Bangladesh's film industry.
Meantime, sources said the Bangladesh Bank would soon issue a circular, detailing the low-cost long-term loans.
On 26 August last year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) directed the authorities concerned to give cheap money to cinema owners to resume movie theatres that had been shuttered, renovate the existing halls and build new ones.
Followed by the instruction to the information ministry to provide the loan to cinema owners through the formation of a fund, an initiative was taken in October last year to set up a Tk1,000 crore fund with the central bank financing.
The cinema owners welcomed the initiative of the central bank, which got approved at its first board meeting of the year Tuesday.
Mia Alauddin, vice-president of the Bangladesh Film Exhibitors' Association, said the sooner the loans are disbursed, the quicker they will be able to start the renovation work and to build new ones.
Doubting whether the loans would bring back the golden era of Bangla films, he said it would be difficult to bring back the lost tradition with tidy halls without good movies.
Noting that there is a lack of audience-friendly films, he said, "If a film does not attract the audience, for whom will we spend? Good movies are definitely needed to get the audience back."
Iftekhar Uddin Nowshad, owner of Madhumita Cinema, told The Business Standard that taxes on cinema-related items should be reduced besides the loans. The owners will not be able to profit if they have to pay a high amount of taxes on loans.
He called for close monitoring to ensure that no party interferes in loan release, and added it must be ensured that the loans reach out to the actual owners.
Nowshad echoed Alauddin on producing audience-friendly films, and requested the government to allow the import of Indian movies. Noting that the cinema industry has been struggling due to the pandemic, the owner called on everyone to work together to cushion the virus fallout.
In the meantime, Mia Alauddin called on the government to consider their appeal to import Indian films to offset the pandemic ongoing crisis.
He said that the audiences have been shying away from the theatres since the intervention of celluloid obscenity in Bangla film industry. With low turnout of audiences, theatres have been closing one after another since long. Then the pandemic has appeared to be the final nail in the coffin.
Mia Alauddin also pointed a finger at the shortage of new artistes, rising production costs and lack of talented directors.
According to the cinema owners' association, there were about 14,350 cinemas in the country in the early 90s. At present, there are only 300 cinemas with dilapidated infrastructure. Of these, 60 movie theatres screen films regularly.
At present, no cinemas are left in many districts including Panchagarh, Kurigram, Gaibandha, Jhalokati, Cox's Bazar, Bandarban and Khagrachhari.