Final curtain call for cinemas?

PETALING JAYA: It is not curtains yet for cinema operators, but they are being pushed to the brink after having to reshut their doors due to Covid-19.

TGV, GSC and MBO Cinemas have to stop screening in the Klang Valley due to the conditional movement control order (CMCO) imposed from Oct 14 to 27.

The Malaysian Film Producers Association (MFPA) has warned the future is bleak for cinemas in the region.

“The cinema industry is severely affected. Movies that are ready for release have been held back, while the new ones which have been released recently have also failed badly. I believe this will not be the end of the lockdown. This year and next year will be a disaster,” MFPA president Pansha Charam told theSun.

The president said the cinematic experience may never be the same again as operators are in for a rough time.

They had just reopened after more than 100 days of closure.

Cinemas across the country reopened in July at half capacity and were already operating with reduced screening hours, besides adhering to all other standard operating procedures.

“There isn’t a positive date for recovery, so until a vaccine is found we won’t be expecting people to head to the cinemas like how they used to,” Pansha said yesterday.

But he was cautiously optimistic about the Malaysian film industry, provided it changes its strategy.

“Movie producers can now concentrate on television channels, as viewership has picked up,” he said.

“Over-the-top (or streaming) platforms are also another avenue for airing movies, so they have to change their strategy to survive. This is just a temporary remedy, the full remedy is when we have a cure.”

As of now, TGV has temporarily shut down 20 of its outlets in Klang Valley, while GSC saw operations at 17 outlets come to a halt.

TGV sales and marketing general manager Mohit Bhargava said the cinema industry will have to cull 4,000 jobs come end of the year if the situation persists.

“Cinemas in the Klang Valley account for approximately 60% of box office and cinema footprints, so closure in this region definitely has a significant impact on the overall well-being of the industry,” he said, adding that other locations were also operating in desperate conditions, with 85-90% decrease in revenue.

TGV, however, is in discussions with the National Security Council in relation to reopening cinemas.

MBO, meanwhile, has shut down all but four of its outlets nationwide. An MBO cinema spokesman confirmed the cinema was not shutting down for good, as reported in the media recently.

The person added some outlets outside the Klang Valley have been temporarily closed for business restrategising purposes, but the cinema has not laid off any of its staff and is operating at a minimal cost for now.

GSC Cinema was not available for comment.

Source: TheSunDaily