Govt asked to provide financial aid to cinema operators


THE government has been urged to provide financial support to cinema operators in the country, who are experiencing cash flow problems since the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MCAT Box Office Sdn Bhd (MBO Cinemas) chief operating officer Cheah Chun Wai said it was learnt that the industry suffered a 55 per cent drop in sales during the first three months of the outbreak and no sales at all during the subsequent three months.

“We are experiencing a loss of RM2 million daily, this is generally not only MBO Cinemas but all cinemas as well. So, we hope the government can address this problem and help us to recover,” he told Bernama after appearing as a guest on the Jendela Fikir programme on Bernama Radio here today.

Cheah said since the reopening of cinemas on July 1, the ticket sales recorded about five to 10 per cent but increased up to between 15 and 20 per cent in early August.

“The sales indicate that the public is confident in spending their time watching movies in the cinema,” he said, adding that the reopening has fully complied with the standard operating procedure (SOP) set by the government.

The SOP includes a distance of one empty seat in the cinema, providing hand sanitisers, taking body temperatures, maintaining a physical distance of at least one metre apart and compulsory wearing of face masks.

According to Cheah, only 23 out of 27 cinemas are operating so far, while the remaining four, namely MBO Cinemas Harbour Place, MBO Cinemas U Mall, MBO Cinemas Space U8 Mall, and MBO Cinemas Melaka Mall are still closed.

“For the time being, MBO Cinemas are giving discounts for concession sales (food and beverages), free movies, and discounts for old films. We hope the situation would return to normal to continue our business and blockbuster films can be screened again because many shows are currently postponed to next year.

“The good news is that the Walt Disney’s Mulan action movie will be screened in early September, come to our cinema to watch it and we also sell merchandise for this movie,” he said.

Cheah added that MBO Cinemas also have several new films such as Train To Busan 2, Black Water Abyss, Digimon Adventure: Last Evolution Kizuna, and Scoob!

Meanwhile, Cheah said for the long-term planning, MBO Cinemas would continue its commitment to build new cinemas that had been agreed upon previously and hoped to get better returns in the future.