Saturday, July 31, 2021
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Pandemic brings curtains down for small and medium cinemas

The film industry yesterday said COVID-19 and travel restrictions had put several cinemas out of business, prompting fresh calls for help.

“There are a number of small- and medium-scale cinemas countrywide that have gone bankrupt. Most of them are unable to maintain their business with no operations to pay rents and salaries,” film industry sources told the Daily FT.

Cinemas were the last to resume business, limiting patrons after the first and second waves. “But now it has been almost a year, and the industry is still not operating as we thought it would in the post-COVID context. It is important that the regulator takes steps to safeguard stakeholders’ interests and consults them to help maintain the industry,” they claimed.

The stakeholders alleged that the film industry had been ignored completely in the recovery post-COVID. “There has to be some way that we can allow cinemas to re-open and be in business once the Government eases latest restrictions, or else the industry will be unable to account for its overheads and will collapse,” they warned.

Stakeholders were hopeful that a rapid vaccination drive would help expedite the reopening.

They also called on authorities for support in maintaining business and increasing occupancy levels to at least 50% once restrictions are eased.

“There are some big Hollywood film releases this month, and if the Government increases the seating capacity from current 25% to 50%, there is hope for us to manage the current crisis situation,” they pointed out.

Noting that the film industry had thrived in recent years, with significant new entrants and investments, they lamented that the pandemic had crippled the industry. “All our investments and plans got pushed back. We are now struggling to continue with our businesses,” stakeholders said.