Cinema Industry response to the COVID-19 pandemic
It doesn’t need to be stated again the unprecedented impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the world (but I’ll say it anyway for SEO purposes). Many businesses have been adversely effected, and the Cinema industry is no exception. With a $5 billion projected loss for Global cinema and no definite re-open date in many regions, we thought it would be a good idea to highlight some of the creative and ingenious ways that some businesses are adapting to this new environment. #StayPositive people!
VOX Cinemas based in the MENA region has had to shut their cinemas due to the pandemic, but that hasn’t affected their food offering, as they have partnered with various home delivery services such as Deliveroo and Zomato to bring their extensive food and beverage offering to customers. Have a peek, their menu is far more than the typical popcorn and soft drinks! Just have a look at the pizza below…
If you are local, you can help yourself to a Beef Burger with fries, a Nachos Supreme combo, or even a Camembert?! (Really).
Everyman Cinemas are another group who have found creative ways to satiate the public need for cinema with their ‘House Party’ offering. They set a movie, a time, and a theme, encouraging people to get involved. Next they state where one can stream the selected movie. Previous films include La La Land with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, 500 Days of Summer starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and The Grand Budapest Hotel with quite the panoply of actors including Ralph Fiennes, Saoirse Ronan and the ever enigmatic Jeff Goldblum.
Another positive story to come out of the pandemic is the show of unity spearheaded by the British Film Institute (BFI) and their commitment to supporting independent film-makers during these troublesome times.
Ben Roberts became the CEO of the BFI in February, and what a baptism of fire he has had! In a recent candid interview with Deadline, Mr. Roberts identified the need to assist independent filmmakers and freelancers, who have abruptly found themselves without a source of income and struggling to make ends meet. To combat this the BFI has teamed up with the Film and TV Charity to establish a relief fund for those who are currently struggling in the face of the pandemic.
When discussing the topic of how the cinema landscape will look post-pandemic, he gave the very measured and relatable response; “We’re putting a lot of emphasis on research to establish what audiences’ perceptions of gathering again are likely to be. That’s a topic that is much broader than cinemagoing. But I think society will want, ultimately, to normalise. To get back to the pub; to football matches; to concerts; and, yes, to the cinema.” We couldn’t agree more!
Secret Cinema specialise in creating immersive experiences for movie-goers, and have enjoyed astounding success over the past few years in the UK. Much of the appeal to Secret Cinema lies in the way they entice viewers to their shows. Participation is not only allowed, but encouraged. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, if you were to attend a Secret Cinema event such as their ‘Stranger Things‘ or ‘Casino Royale‘ themed viewings, you would see people dressed up both as the main protagonist or villain, to mundane characters you forgot even existed. However, with social distancing guidelines interrupting their traditional business model they have now added Secret Sofa to their offering…
The process is simple; sign up to their mailing list and you will receive an email. Every Friday at 7.30 PM BST, thousands of people all press play at the same time. The image above was sent to their mailing list. Even in lock-down, Secret cinema is pushing for people to fully immerse themselves in a film for a few hours at a time. Partnered with Haagen-Dazs, this DIY cinema seems to have been met with a positive response, demonstrating that interest in a full movie experience is not waning.
The party doesn’t end when the movie does though. After the screening, for a fee one can get involved in an after party hosted on Zoom video calling software. There are multiple rooms with live DJ’s and… well I can’t help to feel I’m now taking the ‘Secret’ out of Secret Cinema. Go have a look for yourself here.
With global box office revenues understandably falling during this period, some distributors have opted instead to release their new movies to on-demand and streaming services, skipping the theatrical release entirely. Whilst this may sound like a death knell to some, Hollywood Reporter released an article this week which points to the contrary. Whilst streaming services such as Netflix and Prime video have captured huge market share in the past few years in Western countries such as the UK, Germany and the USA, the same cannot be said in other large markets. The article points out that in the 5 big markets of China, Russia, Mexico, Brazil and India, steaming services account for only 3.5% of digital transaction revenue. Variety posted an article which tells a similar tale in Bollywood, with most studios and distributors seeing the shift to ‘straight to stream’ as only temporary. Whilst some distributors opted for straight to VOD in China and India, the majority of big-name productions instead delayed their release. This approach has been mirrored by Western studios with blockbusters such as ‘James Bond 007: No Time to Die’ also being postponed for theatrical release at a later date.
As social distancing measures have taken force across the world, one way that people are getting their fix of film is through drive-in cinemas. This form of entertainment saw it’s peak from the 1940’s-60’s in the USA, and is now seeing a marked resurgence as around the globe car parks seem to be at capacity for films both new and old. The Guardian has collated a series of photos from cinemas internationally recording this upsurge internationally. VOX Cinemas have rolled out Drive In cinema as of 14/05/2020 at their Mall of the Emirates location, 5 days of movies sold out in less than 24 hours! Whilst this had to close temporarily over the Eid holiday weekend due to new curfew rules, it clearly demonstrates that the appetite for a full cinema experience persists, one wonders if this will become the new norm.
Although we all may be deprived of visits to the cinema for the time being, our favourite chains are still coming up with ever more inventive ways to deliver a captivating movie experience. One of the key reasons for this will be that businesses will want to keep their past customers engaged, as to capitalise when things hopefully return to normality. It is difficult to determine if consumer expectations and appetites will alter when the worst of the pandemic has abated, but we can be sure that there will always be a wide range of options to choose from for when we desire an extra special viewing experience.