Malaysian cinema operators, acting under the trade group Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors (MAFE), have collectively decided that operations in the country will temporarily shut down as of November, 2020.
In their official statement, released October 30, the MAFE cited recent regional restrictions on cinema reopenings as well as “a lack of new movie releases… which are essential to attract moviegoers back to the cinemas.”
Cinemas in Malaysia, as a result of the MAFE’s decision, “will be progressively suspending movie screenings and/or concessions operations at their locations” as they “continue to monitor the situation and react accordingly as market conditions improve.”
The country has experienced a spike in Covid cases in recent weeks, prompting the Prime Minster to order a review of regulations on social activities.
The Malaysian cinema industry, writes MAFE, has suffered a year-on-year drop in admission of 90 percent compared to 2019, a state of affairs that has prompted cinemas to ask for rent support and government assistance. While the decision to close “was not easy,” writes MAFE Vice President Cheah Chun Wai, also CEO of Malaysian chain MBO Cinemas, adding:
“It is in response to an increasingly challenging landscape for cinemas…. [A]s an industry we believe it to be a necessary step for the long term preservation of Malaysian cinemas, so we can continue our role of contributing to the social, economic, and cultural fabric of our nation in the long run. Closing and reopening cinemas is extremely cumbersome, costly, and disruptive not only for cinemas, but also for our landlords and customers. To all patrons of cinemas in Malaysia, we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and gratitude for the unending support and solidarity thus far, and we look forward to welcoming you back soon, to once again share the magic of the movies on the big screen.”
The past weeks have seen a spate of temporary cinema reclosures throughout Europe, first in Italy and later in Belgium, Germany, and France. The UK Cinema Association confirmed over the weekend that cinemas in England will close from November 5 to December 5; cinemas in Wales and Northern Ireland are already closed, and cinemas in Scotland are expected to follow. Top European markets Russia, Switzerland, and Spain, are facing partial cinema closures.