Cinemas struggle for survival amid Covid closures

By Vien Thong   June 11, 2021 | 07:00 pm PT
Cinemas struggle for survival amid Covid closures
Customers buy tickets at a cinema in District 1, HCMC, before they closed in early May. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Cinema chains like Galaxy, BHD, Lotte Cinema, and CJ CGV, closed on and off since February due to Covid-19, are suffering badly, with some even facing bankruptcy.

Movies that were showing had to stop and upcoming movies were delayed, causing huge losses since they had to write off the spending on marketing them, a spokesperson for multiplex chain CJ CGV Vietnam said.

Despite the closure of its cinemas, it still has to pay rents and operating costs and spend on equipment maintenance, he said.

HCMC closed cinemas on May 3 and Hanoi on May 5 to cope with the fourth wave of Covid that began on April 27.

Last year, with similar closures, South Korean-owned CJ CGV reported a 60 percent fall in revenues to VND1.4 trillion ($60.7 million) a loss of VND850 billion.

Though it did not announce figures for its Vietnamese operations, South Korea’s Lotte Shopping, which owns Lotte Cinema, reported a 65 percent drop in revenues and a 29.8 percent fall in the number of tickets sold.

In a letter they wrote to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh in May, the four cinema chains said if the situation persists they face bankruptcy, which could affect the future development of the film industry.

They sought financial support from the government, deferment of tax and insurance payments and permission to reopen with all Covid prevention measures in place.

The number of cinemas in the country skyrocketed from 90 to 1,096 in the decade from 2010. The number of tickets sold annually rose from seven million to 57 million.

Cinemas’ annual revenues rose 668 percent to VND4.1 trillion in 2019.

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