GSCinemas, TGV and MBO trend #ReopenCinemas online

Heading to the cinemas was considered a regular past-time among Malaysians before the COVID-19 pandemic. But that’s no longer the case in recent days with the Movement Control Order and its various stages forcing cinemas to remain closed to help contain the spread of the virus in our community. 

While cinemas were allowed to operate for brief periods in July and December 2020 with strict SOPs, they have been closed for the bulk of 2020 – as well as the first 2 months of 2021. The drop in revenue has had cinemas closing their doors permanently too. Now, local cinemas, such as Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) and TGV Cinemas, are trending #ReopenCinema on their social media platforms in an effort to raise awareness on the state of Malaysian cinemas and the film industry after months of closures. 

Film industry makes a plea to #ReopenCinemas

GSC took to their Facebook account on 22nd February 2021 to share a public statement from the Malaysian Association of Film Exhibitors (MAFE). The appeal addressed government institutions, including the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), and asked them to allow cinemas to operate as they play an “important role in the cultural development of the nation”. The venues are also a public source of “escapism” during tough times, much like other leisure activities, including casinos, spas, gyms, and golf.

Along with the appeal, GSC included the hashtags “#ReopenCinemas” and “#BringCinemasBack”, which other institutions and the public have since picked up on.

GSCinemas Start Reopen Cinemas Trend - trend
Image credit: GSC

The statement from MAFE starts by stating that Malaysian cinemas have remained closed since the start of MCO 2.0 on 13th January 2021, while other non-essential services, such as spas and gyms, have been allowed to operate. This is detrimental to the industry, with cinemas spending a good portion of 2020 shut, leading to 25% of cinema closures, a total revenue loss of revenue of RM500 million, job and pay cuts, and forced liquidation of MBO Cinemas, said the statement.

Small but important industries that cinemas employ and rely on at its premises, including F&B, manufacturing, logistics, cleaning and retail, are also said to be affected. Over 20,000 local filmmakers, and artists, performers and actors, are not spared from the closure of cinemas too, with productions of local films such as Polis Evo 3 and Mat Kilau put on pause.

GSCinemas Start Reopen Cinemas Trend - statement
Snippet of GSC’s Facebook post
Image adapted from: GSC

They also cite the reopening of cinemas in neighbouring countries of Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, as well as India, Korea and Japan, as reasons for Malaysia to follow suit, and noted that “no COVID-19 clusters” have sprung from cinemas abroad and locally. This is because cinemas have been keeping to strict SOPs, such as mandatory contact tracing and temperature checks, as well as seating patrons a good distance apart, and instituting limited capacity in movie halls, much like SOPs followed at other establishments.

Should cinemas be forced to close any longer, it would be difficult for the film industry and cinemas to recover.

Other cinemas and industries also join in on the trend

As all cinemas are affected by closure notices, other cinemas came out in support of MAFE’s public statement and hashtag. TGV Cinemas shared a Facebook post to their account on the same day along with a caption “We are #SafeCinemas, and please #SaveCinemas” while also tweeting the #ReopenCinemas hashtag.

GSCinemas Start Reopen Cinemas Trend - TGV
Image credit: TGV

MBO Cinemas – heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with news of its voluntary liquidation – also added to the discourse with a Facebook post with the hashtag.

GSCinemas Start Reopen Cinemas Trend - MBO
Image credit: MBO

Grab Malaysia also came out to show their support for cinemas in a comment left on GSCinemas Facebook post. They shared that they “hope that [GSCinemas] will be able to reopen soon”, along with the hashtag #REOPENCINEMAS.

GSCinemas Start Reopen Cinemas Trend - Grab
Image adapted from: Grab 

Netizens share their thoughts on the situation

Netizens also took to GSCinemas’ Facebook comment section to voice their opinions on the hashtag and situation. Many came out in support of the reopening of cinemas, including Sin Hui Kho, who commented that there is “no difference sitting 2 hours at restaurants and sitting 2 hours at the cinema”, and called for the reopening of cinemas so the film industry can stand a chance of recovering from the adverse effects of the pandemic.

GSCinemas Start Reopen Cinemas Trend - comment
Image adapted from: Sin Hui Kho 

On the other side of the argument, Facebook user Carmen Cheong, echoed a concern shared by several individuals, saying that vaccinations for the public is a must before allowing the reopening of cinemas, as there are still some people who do not fully adhere to SOPs while they are out.

GSCinemas Start Reopen Cinemas Trend - comment
Image adapted from: Carmen Cheong 

Malaysian cinemas trend #ReopenCinemas on social media

We’ve been swapping out our usual cinema visits with online streaming platforms and local films on Netflix. But there’s nothing like catching a movie at the cinema, with their huge screens and surround sound systems. We’ve already been seeing local businesses forced to shut their doors over the duration of the MCO and its various stages, so we hope that our local cinemas aren’t heavily impacted by it either. 

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Cover image adapted from: GSC and TGV Cinemas

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