COVID-19 claims cinema business on Eid

Tanzil Rahaman | Published: 22:48, May 22,2020


This photograph taken on May 21 shows a front view of Madhumita Cinema Hall which was closed on March 18, along with cinemas across the country, due to COVID-19 outbreak. – Indrajit Kumer Ghosh

Local cinema owners are looking at a huge revenue loss as cinemas will remain closed this Eid-ul-Fitr due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Cinemas were shut down on March 18 to contain the spread of coronavirus resulting in the loss of livelihood of thousands employed at various cinemas across the country.

Local cinemas were already suffering before the outbreak due to lack of quality films that lead to a gradual decline in the number of audiences.

Industry insiders have voiced concerns over the loss of business on Eid-ul-Fitr and warned that many cinemas won’t bounce back and might shutdown permanently if the crisis persists till Eid-ul-Azha.

This correspondent spoke with the management of leading cinemas in the capital to get a glimpse into the economic impact of COVID-19 on cinemas.

Madhumita Cinema Hall owner Iftekhar Uddin Nawshad said, ‘People associated with cinemas lost their livelihood after cinemas were shutdown in March to prevent COVID-19 spread. I have not been able to pay salaries to our staff after March. We were looking forward to opening cinemas following the health directives during Eid holidays. We approached the authorities concerned on Sunday regarding the matter but we were turned down flat.’

‘Every year cinemas make most of their revenues during Eid. Madhumita earned around Tk 5.5 lakh screening Dhallywood superstar Shakib Khan-starrer film “Password” and Tk 3.5 lakh screening Shakib- starrer “Moner Moto Manush Pailam Na” during Eid-ul-Fitr last year,’ he said.

‘As cinemas will remain close this Eid due to the COVID-19 outbreak, cinema owners across the country will lose revenue worth Tk 50 crore. I don’t know how local cinemas, which were already struggling to stay open, will bounce back. I fear that between 20 and 25 cinemas will be shut down across the country in the future,’ he added.

Balaka Cinema Hall manager Sajid Ali said, ‘Last year we earned revenue worth Tk 6 lakh screening Eid films but we had earned revenue worth Tk 12 lakh in 2018. So it should come as no surprise that cinemas across the country have been faring poorly financially. We shut down our cinema on March 19.’

‘We have a total of 60 staff who haven’t been paid after March. We are now looking forward to Eid-ul-Azha for recovering our losses. I don’t know how we will put food on the table if the situation worsens,’ he added.

Mezbah Uddin Ahmed, senior marketing manager of Star Cineplex, said, ‘Star Cineplex draws audience throughout the month of Ramadan who do Eid shopping at Bashundhara City and other shopping malls where we have outlets. To entertain Eid holidaymakers we screen Eid films for ten consecutive days. We released two local films namely “Password” and “Abar Basanta” during Eid-ul-Fitr last year. “Password” did good business.’

‘As cinemas were closed in March to prevent COVID-19 spread, we have suffered huge revenue loss. We are looking forward to recovering lost revenues during Eid-ul-Azha,’ he said.

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