Cinema houses are the latest victims of Coronavirus as the disease continues its onslaught on business activities across the world.
Coronavirus had negatively affected oil price, trade and airline operations globally, now cinema operators are left counting their losses as they are shutting down over fear of the virus.
Cinemas in the UK are shutting down, urging the government to support them in order to remain in business as the lockdown will affect their revenue generation. The decision to stop screenings came after the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, advised against social gatherings like Pub and Restaurants.
Companies like Vue, Odeon, Cineworld and Picturehouse are some of the Cinemas locking up until further notice in the UK, with return date as far as May. According to the operators, the decision is part of their contribution to curbing the spread of the virus, which has infected about 189,683 people globally.
Speaking on Vue’s shutdown, Tim Richards, founder and CEO of the cinema, said, “Since the first news of the Covid-19 outbreak, we have been doing everything we can to provide a high quality, enjoyable and safe big screen experience for our customers.
“However, in line with the UK Government’s latest public health advice, we will be closing all our 91 cinemas in the UK and Ireland from today, March 17, until further notice. As you would expect, we are also doing our part by putting employment policies in place so that our staff are protected and are not penalised financially.
“We want to wish all our customers and employees well during these difficult times. Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to welcoming you back at one of our cinemas soon.”
Cineworld Group CEO Mooky Greidinger said, “At Cineworld and Picturehouse we are committed to providing safe and healthy environments for our employees and guests and have therefore made the difficult decision to close our cinemas in UK and Ireland until further notice.
“We deeply value our cinema-loving customers and have no doubt we will be serving everyone again as soon as possible with a full slate of Hollywood blockbusters and the best of independent films and content.”
Also, Oden wrote on its website, “Following government guidelines Odeon cinemas are closed until further notice.”
A spokesman said: “In line with the latest Government guidance on COVID-19, we are temporarily closing our cinemas. We will continue to monitor the situation and look forward to welcoming back guests as soon possible.”
Also, the BFI Southbank said it would be closing “effective immediately”. “It’s with great regret that, due to the rapidly evolving Covid-19 pandemic, and following Government’s updated advice, we’ve taken the decision to close BFI Southbank effective immediately. All forthcoming events & screenings are now cancelled or postponed.”
Meanwhile, in Nigeria where confirmed cases of coronavirus is as low as three persons (two among them have recovered), cinema business is still open as the Nigerian government hasn’t announced stricter measures like banning large gatherings.
But revenue dropped during the week when the Federal Government announced the first case of coronavirus in Nigeria. From the N81.5 million recorded between February 21 to February 27, 2020, revenue generated by all the Cinema houses dropped to N71 million between February 28 to March 5. The first case was announced on February 28.
Attendance also dropped from 73,209 to 68,922 admissions during the same periods under review. However, Cinema revenue bounced back, hitting N81.9 million between March 6 to March 12, 2020, while attendance increased to 71,795; data from Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria (CEAN) showed. This amount was made from cinemas likes Silverbird, Genesis Deluxe, FilmOne and Ozone Cinema.
There are no signs to compel cinemas to follow in the path of their UK counterparts cinemas as coronavirus isn’t widespread in Nigeria. The Senate is already calling for restriction on countries with high cases of coronavirus in order to curb the spread in Nigeria.