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Allow movie screenings to reduce pandemic stress, cinemas tell government

By Long Nguyen   June 2, 2021 | 05:32 am PT
The CGV, Lotte, Galaxy, and BHD cinema chains have asked for government support including resuming screenings as an essential service to overcome pandemic blues.

They have asked the government to encourage real estate firms to lower the rent for cinemas and recognize that "movie screening for entertainment is an essential activity, especially amid difficult circumstances at the moment."

In a letter sent to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Ministry of Finance and the State Bank in May, the four cinema chains said they been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A movie theater in HCMC is disinfected for coronavirus prevention in May 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

A movie theater in HCMC is disinfected for coronavirus prevention in May 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.

Revenue from movie screenings and releases are almost zero, but they still have to pay rent, salaries and meet other overheads, they said.

If the situation persists, companies will face bankruptcy, affecting future development of the film industry, the letter said.

The four movie chains noted the development of the domestic film industry from 2010 to 2020, with the number of cinemas rising from 90 to 1,096, and the number of viewings from seven million to 57 million a year.

The companies expressed understanding and appreciation of the government’s efforts in containing the pandemic, adding that they needed help in overcoming the Covid-19 upheavals.

In order to avoid laying off employees, the cinema chains asked for approval to open their business with all Covid-19 prevention measures, apart from financial support and deferment of tax and insurance payments.

The cinemas said they mandate social distancing among patrons during screenings, including asking them to consume snacks like popcorn separately.

Amid the latest Covid-19 wave that resurfaced late April, cinemas in HCMC and Hanoi were shut down early May.

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