Covid-19: All Malaysian cinemas to shut down until further notice

People wearing protective face masks sit while social distancing before watching a movie at a TGV cinema in Central I-City, Shah Alam July 1, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
People wearing protective face masks sit while social distancing before watching a movie at a TGV cinema in Central I-City, Shah Alam July 1, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — Cinema operators in Malaysia have come to the decision to temporarily suspend operations at all their cinemas nationwide.

The Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors (MAFE) announced it is collectively suspending operations, but will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation and react accordingly as market conditions improve.

MAFE vice-president Cheah Chun Wai said the primary reason for the closures is the recent conditional movement control order (CMCO) implemented in several states, as well as a lack of new movies released in the short term.

“Ordinarily these new movies are essential to attract moviegoers back to the cinemas,” he said in a statement.

Cheah said the national cinema industry has been hit hard by the pandemic and endured considerable revenue losses due to a drop of admissions of up to 90 per cent year-on-year.

Additionally, the need to invest heavily in stringent safety standard operating procedures to ensure strong compliance and safety for customers has been taxing as well.

“Cinemas are loved by all Malaysians, we are a key social, communal, and cultural epicentre in Malaysia.

“We help bring to life stories from local and global artists for millions of Malaysians to enjoy with their loved ones each year,” he said.

Cheah said the decision was not easy but as the landscape for cinemas grows challenging, it believes the temporary closures to be a necessary step for the long-term preservation of Malaysian cinemas.

“Closing and reopening cinemas are extremely cumbersome, costly, and disruptive not only for cinemas, but also for our landlords and customers.

“To all patrons of cinemas in Malaysia we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and gratitude for the unending support and solidarity thus far, and we look forward to welcoming you back soon, to once again share the magic of movies on the big screen,” he said.

Cheah said the coming months will be critical to the continuance of the Malaysian cinema industry, but that its players remain optimistic that post Covid-19, cinema attendances will rebound stronger than ever as moviegoing will remain a top entertainment choice for Malaysians.

Following MAFE’s announcement, several other cinema chains also announced they will adhere to the closure, including TGV Cinemas Sdn Bhd, Golden Screen Cinemas Sdn Bhd, MBO Cinemas, and mmCineplexes.

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