Market Insight

The impact of COVID-19 on the global cinema business (as at 24/3/20)

March 24, 2020

David Hancock David Hancock Director – Research and Analysis, Cinema & Home Entertainment

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The news from the cinema sector is starting to visibly slow down now, as most countries have either fully or partially closed their cinemas and other entertainment venues. One trend is clear: where cinemas or countries begin by introducing staggering, distancing and occupancy measures for cinemas, they are pretty quickly moving to full closures and social lockdowns.

There is major knock-on effect on cinema suppliers, whose businesses are also grinding to a halt both in demand terms but also their ability to maintain manufacturing and supply lines in social lockdowns and ending of non-essential work.

As reported yesterday, China has begun to re-open cinemas, with very minimal take-up. There are no major releases or US films on offer, mainly local titles and classic films. These are being released with no distributor rentals. The prospect of any major releases before summer time is pretty low although Warner is said to be releasing a newly mastered 3D/4K version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on April 30 as a help to get cinemas re-started. The franchise began in China before the current wave of cinema construction began and the returns were low and they are likely to start a new generation of fans in the country as well as entertain existing fans.

PLF company IMAX re-opened its Shanghai office in early March and is expected by some financial analysts to be generating revenues again by May. China is a major part of its overall network of screens. New Zealand’s Vista Group, behind the software systems in a majority of the world’s cinemas, expects Chinese cinemas to re-open in early to mid-April.

In Russia, the government has now ordered regions to close down cinemas from today, March 24th.

In New Zealand, cinemas were ordered to close on March 23 as part of a wide range of government measures.

Singapore’s government has ordered a shutdown of all cinemas and entertainment venues from March 26th through to 30th April. The country had previously been on top of the virus, after an early response but has recently announced several imported cases from nationals returning from abroad and is putting in place mew measures in enclosed entertainment venues.

Thailand shut down its cinemas on 17th March, and the government has now extended the scale of the national measures taken against this virus.

Pakistani cinemas, schools, malls and other spaces were shut down from Monday 23rd March.

While India had already experienced widespread cinema closures, the country is now on a governmentally-ordered lockdown and all cinemas will need to close.

In South Africa, whose cinemas had remained open with social distancing measures in place, the government has now shut down all non-essential business from midnight on March 26th which will include cinemas.

The Ivory Coast shut down its cinemas last week.

Parts of Algeria are in a full shutdown since March 23rd while other areas are partial for now.

Cinemas in UAE have been shut down already, since 15th March in the case of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In Dubai, where several mall developers are also cinema owners, local company Majid Al Futtaim his moving staff from four affected subsidiary companies (including Vox Cinemas) to work in local branches of Carrefour supermarkets.

In Europe, the largest regional cinema exhibition event CineEurope has been postponed from its annual June date to 3-6 August in Barcelona.

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