The COVID-19 pandemic has crippled the film industry. Productions all over the world are suspended to protect the wellbeing of the cast, crew and those around them. Not only that, release dates of films from all over the world, have also been pushed back months as theatres keep their shutters closed during these trying times.
Recently, The Edge Markets sat down with PBB Group (the parent company that owns Golden Screen Cinema Sdn Bhd [GSC]) managing director, Lim Soon Huat, to discuss how GSC is coping in the current industry climate. Lim said he expects the COVID-19 pandemic to impact the industry negatively, but remains positive that when the storm has passed and the dust settles people will return to cinemas.
“We are, however, optimistic that when this crisis is over, people in view of their social nature will return to the communal experience of watching movies at the cinema. When these deferred titles are rescheduled for release, the cinemas will benefit from a much fuller slate of movie offerings. On top of that, the fatigue of staying at home and mandatory restricted movements will motivate more people to return to the cinemas to catch their favourite movies when life returns to normal. Therefore, this will help the recovery of the financial performance of this segment.”
It’s great to see Lim be so optimistic, especially considering China’s failed experiment recently. A few weeks ago we reported that despite the cinemas in China being open for business once again, the Chinese public simply refused to show up due to Coronavirus fears. According to reports, “these theatres averaged poorly, with numbers of less than one person per screening.” Cinemas in China were later ordered to close once again, amidst fear of a second wave of COVID-19 infection.
But Lim said that not only is GSC well-positioned to overcome this difficult period, they’re also excited to proceed with their refurbishment plans. They also have plans to revamp their loyalty programme.
“GSC remains committed to the industry. We will proceed with our refurbishment plans on a prudent scale at key locations and complete a new eight-screen, 1,140-seat cinema in Sunway Iskandar, Johor to capitalise on the increased traffic market. We will also revamp our existing membership programme into a full-fledged loyalty programme to reward existing customers and attract new ones.”
Lim Soon Huat also talked about how they plan on staying relevant in an era where streaming services are becoming increasingly more popular.
“Operating in an increasingly saturated industry coupled with disruption from streaming services, we expect competition to intensify in the future. Nevertheless, we believe that GSC will continue to stay ahead by targeting various segments of the market with more unique and personalised experiences like Aurum Theatre, PlayPlus and private screening halls.”