Covid-19: All cinemas to be temporarily closed

Picture from The Star

By John Isaac

THE Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors (MAFE) has decided to temporarily suspend operations at all cinemas across Malaysia beginning next month.

Cinemas will progressively be suspending movie screenings and concessions operations at their locations during the month.

The closure is a cohesive decision undertaken by the industry in light of the recent CMCO implementation in some states across Malaysia, which requires cinemas to remain closed, coupled with a lack of new movie releases in the short-term which are essential to attract moviegoers back to the cinemas.

The Malaysian cinema industry has been hit hard by the pandemic and has endured deep revenue losses due to a drop in admissions of up to 90 per cent year-on-year, while having to invest heavily on stringent safety SOPs to ensure strong compliance and safety for its customers while they enjoy movies on the big screen.

MAFE vice-president Cheah Chun Wai said: “Cinemas are loved by all Malaysians. We are a key social, communal and cultural epicentre in Malaysia. We help bring to life stories from local and global artistes for millions of Malaysians to enjoy with their loved ones each year.”

“The Malaysian cinema industry is larger than MAFE. It includes all the actors, the film crews, the promoters and everyone who had a hand in making the movies possible.

“The success of home-grown movies such as Munafik, Hantu Kak Limah, Ejen Ali: The Movie and BoBoiBoy The Movie 2, would not have been possible without Malaysian cinemas as a platform,” he said.

Cheah added: “While this decision was not easy, it is in response to an increasingly challenging landscape for cinemas and as an industry we believe it to be a necessary step for the long term preservation of Malaysian cinemas, so we can continue our role of contributing to the social, economic and cultural fabric of our nation in the long run.”

“Closing and reopening cinemas is extremely cumbersome, costly, and disruptive not only for cinemas but also for our landlords and customers.

“To all patrons of cinemas in Malaysia we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and gratitude for the unending support and solidarity thus far, and we look forward to welcoming you back soon, to once again share the magic of movies on the big screen,” he said.

A statement from MAFE related that cinemas in Malaysia have appealed for government assistance and rental support for the distressed industry as it grapples to survive and recover from this worldwide crisis.

If the cinema businesses fail, it stands to destabilise the entire entertainment ecosystem.

Cinemas will have to rely on the support and goodwill of the Malaysian government, landlords, film studios and the cinema-going public to pull through these difficult times.

The coming months will be critical to the continuance of the Malaysian cinema industry.

However, the industry remains optimistic that post Covid-19, cinema attendances will rebound stronger than ever, as movie-going will remain a top entertainment choice for Malaysians.

A statement from one of Malaysia’s premiere cinema chains GSC announced that the company would be closing all of its cinemas from Nov 2 until the end of November.