Many of us long to return to the days when we could just hit up our friends and go to the cinema and watch the latest blockbuster film. But with the MCO in place and the government not announcing any plans to resume the industry’s operations, there might be nothing left to return to.
The Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors (MAFE) recently released a statement urging the government to reconsider the opening of cinemas as the local film industry is struggling to maintain its livelihood.
In a Facebook post by GSC, the association said that cinemas across Malaysia are still forced to remain closed despite the announcement of openings in other non-essential sectors like spas, gyms, casinos, and recreational fishing.
“The forced closure of movie theatres is crippling the Malaysian cinema industry, which has already lost up to 90% of revenue year-on-year and more than RM500 million in total losses incurred in the year 2020 alone,” said the statement.
As Malaysian cinemas have either been partially or fully closed since the first MCO last March, the industry has been gravely impacted which has led to countless job losses to people, directly and indirectly, involved in the film business. The statement said that some cinema employees have received extensive pay cuts of up to 70% and over 25% of cinema screens all over the country have been permanently shut as a result of long-term closures.
“This is no longer just a crisis for the cinema industry; it is evolving into a financial catastrophe that is likely to affect thousands of jobs across a larger supply chain.”
The deteriorating cinema industry is estimated to directly impact over 20,000 Malaysians currently working in filmmaking and production, creatives, distribution, talent, and other industries.
Datuk Dr Yusod Haslam from Skop Productions said that “as a local filmmaker, we have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has staggered the productions of three films including Abang Long Fadil 3, Polis Evo 3, and Mat Kilau, in which we have already invested more than RM20 million to produce. ”
“The government must address this situation before it gets worse. The losses incurred by cinema operators since the implementation of the first MCO in 2020 until today must also be taken into account.”
Members of MAFE have also come forward to voice their concern for the allowances given to other non-essential industries to re-open while cinemas remain closed. “Given the allowances for certain non-essential industries to reopen over the last few weeks, we believe consumers are beginning to see the discrepancy in which businesses can reopen and which cannot.”
The statement added that cinema operators have followed every guideline set out by the government and claims that “cinemas are the safest form of out-of-home-entertainment.”
“The cinema industry cannot sustain closure for much longer and it will undoubtedly collapse, affecting the livelihoods of every Malaysian serving across the entire supply chain. We hope that the Government will seriously reconsider their decision to allow us to reopen,” said General (Rtd) Tan Sri Datuk Amar (Dr) Mohd Ghazali Dato’ Mohd Seth, Chairman of MAFE.
Meanwhile, the statement also highlighted that cinemas in neighbouring countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, and Japan have been permitted to operate.
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