Monday, June 28, 2021

CORONAVIRUS. South Africa's struggling cinemas and theatres shuttering again in adjusted Level 4 as cases and deaths of contagious Delta-variant rise.

by Thinus Ferreira

After suffering massive damage and loss of revenue in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic following months of closure and with some venues that will never open again, South African cinemas and theatres have to shutter yet again from today following the country's move back to lockdown Level 4.

Following president Cyril Ramaphosa's latest national address on Sunday night regarding the dramatic spike in Covid-19 positive cases and deaths in South Africa, during which he announced that the country is moving back to an adjusted Level 4 lockdown period until at least Sunday 11 July, the new regulations were printed on Monday morning in the Government Gazette.

Besides cinemas and theatres, all casinos, gyms, night clubs, conference centre's exhibition spaces, museums, libraries, galleries, archives, auctions are shutting down immediately again.

Restaurants, taverns and shebeens - except for takeaway orders and food deliveries - must close again as well.

In 2020 South Africa's total box office revenue at cinemas plunged by a massive R1.2 billion to a measly R214 million compared to 2019 - the lowest in over a decade - according to a recent industry report.

Cinema chains like Cine Centre, Nu Metro and Ster-Kinekor are struggling immensely, have shed jobs and Ster-Kinekor entered voluntary business rescue at the beginning of 2021. 

Meanwhile, the number of remaining independent cinemas in South Africa are also struggling to keep head above water with the latest Level 4 closure that will once again have a debilitating impact.

On Monday morning cinemas and distributors notified the media that they're yet again cancelling in-person cinema press previews that only started to resume recently, with most notably the Kevin Feige produced Black Widow from Marvel Studios that will no longer be shown to the media and that was supposed to premiere in cinemas on 9 July and that will now have to get a new release date.