30 Oct – It's only been a few months since cinemas across Malaysia were allowed to resume operations on 1 July, following the temporary closure that was enforced by the government since 18 March, but recently several cinemas have been ordered to temporarily close again when the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) was reinstated from 13 to 27 October in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Sabah, and was further extended until 9 November.
With the uncertainty surrounding when the cinemas will be allowed to open again and the possibility of future forced closure, the Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors (MAFE) has taken the decision to temporarily suspend all cinema operations nationwide from 1 November 2020.
MAFE says the closure "is a cohesive decision undertaken by the industry, given the current situation coupled with the lack of new movie releases in the short term which are essential to attract moviegoers back to the cinemas." Most of the major film exhibitors in Malaysia, such as GSC, TGV Cinemas, mmCineplexes and MBO Cinemas, have updated their respective social media regarding it, with most of them commencing the temporary closure from this Sunday, 1 November, onwards while some will only temporarily suspend operations starting from Monday, 2 November.
Cinema Online has reached out to local film exhibitors and distributors for comments following the announcement.
So far, except for GSC stating that its cinemas will be closed until the end of November, film exhibitors have yet to set a definite end date for the cinema reclosures.
Other film exhibitors such as LFS Cinemas, Paragon Cinemas, and Emperor Cinemas will also commence temporary closure throughout next month, though Bona Cinemas told Cinema Online, "we are undecided at the moment. Going through our drawers to see options if we are to stay or follow. We should come to a decision soon but meanwhile we are still open."
As for film distributors with major titles planned for release in the coming months, a Warner Bros. Malaysia said that they will not be making any changes to "Wonder Woman 1984's" December release for now, while a Disney Malaysia rep stated, "At this point of time, our December releases have been put on hold until further updates on the reopening of the cinemas."
Cheah Chun Wai, Vice President of MAFE, stated that the reclosure decision was not easy but necessary in ensuring the long-term preservation of Malaysian cinemas.
Cheah, who is also the Chief Operating Officer (CEO) of MBO Cinemas, has recently launched the #StayStrongMBOCinemas campaign, which includes limited edition merchandise that customers can purchase as a way to show and give support to the film exhibitor that had been struggling due to lack of admission. Just two weeks ago, reports surfaced of MBO Cinemas shutting down its operations for good but they have since confirmed to Cinema Online that such reports were untrue.
Cinemas in Malaysia have been struggling to attract moviegoers back to cinemas following the first temporary shutdown that occurred when the Movement Control Order (MCO) was initiated back in March 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Back in July, cinemas were allowed to resume operations but moviegoers were still reluctant to return due to both safety concerns, despite the SOPs in place, and due to lack of new releases.
With the recent reinstatement of the Conditional MCO (CMCO) in certain parts of Malaysia, it was decided by MAFE that it was best for cinemas nationwide to temporarily suspend operations again from November onwards until the pandemic situation is under control.
(Photo source: starlingmbo.com)