Cinemas here stay open, turn to new ways to sustain business
Movie theatres worldwide are being shut down, but the show is going on for local cinema chains.
Golden Village, Shaw Theatres, Cathay Cineplexes and The Projector told The New Paper they remain open amid the Covid-19 outbreak and have no plans to cease operations for now.
And with every tentpole summer blockbuster - No Time To Die, Mulan, Fast & Furious 9, A Quiet Place Part II and most recently Black Widow - postponing its release dates, cinemas here have come up with new ways to draw audiences and sustain their business.
A Golden Village spokesman said new titles will still be released in the coming weeks - including Guns Akimbo starring Daniel Radcliffe, Japanese thriller A.I. Amok and Thai rom-com Low Season - and it has re-released a trio of Korean zombie films (Train To Busan, Rampant and The Odd Family: Zombie On Sale).
It will also be bringing back older Hollywood movies like Mile 22, 21 Bridges and Midway at GVmax for $5 and curating thematic event screenings for families, singles and dedicated film buffs.
Shaw Theatres and Cathay Cineplexes are reviewing their programming and turning to their own titles to bolster their line-up.
Shaw is bringing forward the release of its own titles, including Escape from Pretoria, Mr Jones, Radioactive and Vivarium.
A Cathay Cineplexes spokesman said: “As mm2 Entertainment has been producing a slate of local movies (for Cathay) in preparation for the launch of the Go Local Go Cinema initiative which was announced last year, we expect to have sufficient content in the coming months.”
Even though independent cinema The Projector has suffered a 40 per cent drop in ticket sales since January, closing - even temporarily - is not a sustainable option due to fixed rent and labour costs.
Instead, it is focused on releasing more independent titles for the comings weeks - such as Sorry We Missed You, The Kingmaker and Beasts Clawing At Straws - and selling ticket gift packs and discounted vouchers for private bookings.
Merchandising campaigns selling tote bags and posters are also in the works to cover operating costs.
New measures have also been added in line with the Ministry of Health's social distancing guidelines. Golden Village and Shaw Theatres have implemented compulsory seat gaps between patrons to ensure they are at least one metre apart.
Shaw Theatres has also reduced some sessions so that more time can be allocated between screenings for thorough cleaning of the halls.
While cinemas struggle to retain audiences, home-viewing platforms have enjoyed a spike in demand.
WATCHING FOR LONGER
Streaming service HBO GO said subscriptions rose by over 40 per cent since the start of Covid-19 and viewers are watching for longer periods of time, by around 10 per cent more.
The 2011 Hollywood virus movie Contagion has also been trending on HBO GO, with a viewership increase of more than 500 per cent.
Cable TV channels have enjoyed a boost too, with HBO and Warner TV rising by 56 per cent and 36 per cent respectively.
Meanwhile, StarHub launched its new StarHub HomeHub Plus service which boasts over 90,000 hours of shows on StarHub Entertainment and Netflix. It also offers Amazon Prime membership, which allows one to enjoy Amazon's shopping and entertainment options.
And following the recent unveiling of its StarHub Cares Covid-19 Fund and community support initiatives, StarHub is rolling out measures to enable customers to stay connected with family, friends and colleagues and find entertainment options easily and with peace of mind.
StarHub’s help measures for customers include free unlimited mobile talktime for healthcare professionals, free preview and video streaming on StarHub Go for everyone and significant discounts on remote work solutions.
Mr Yann Courqueux, vice-president of Home Product at StarHub, said: “We are seeing positive response to our recent launches, and we expect customer interest to grow further."