26/06/2020 - 10:17

Cinemas getting back to business

26/06/2020 - 10:17

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Northbridge icon Cinema Paradiso may not be reopening after the COVID-19 shutdown, but several other theatres in the city are preparing to welcome moviegoers in the coming weeks.

Cinemas getting back to business
Allan Stiles says Grand Cinemas’ movie theatres will open on July 23. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Northbridge icon Cinema Paradiso may not be reopening after the COVID-19 shutdown, but several other theatres in the city are preparing to welcome moviegoers in the coming weeks.

Established in 1988 and acquired by Palace Cinemas in 2018, Cinema Paradiso posted on its website in June it had closed its doors for good.

Palace Cinemas chief executive Benjamin Zeccola said the cinema had struggled for years, and the COVID-19 closure had proved too difficult.

“It’s been a difficult cinema to try make work and always was that way,” Mr Zeccola told Business News.

“We were already discussing rental relief with the landlord and what the future of the site was before COVID hit.

“For something that was already losing money, it just can’t survive the shutdown.”

Mr Zeccola said staff from the cinema had been redeployed and the Paradiso’s international film festivals would continue at Palace Cinemas’ Raine Square venue.

The Raine Square cinema, which opened in 2018, has been closed since March 23 due to the government-ordered shuttering of businesses.

It will reopen on July 2, with social distancing measures to adhere to the two-square-metres rule.

Luna Palace Cinemas managing director Ingrid van den Berghe said Luna cinemas would also open on July 2, with the highly anticipated film Tenet to be released in July.

She said the cinemas would increase their hygiene protocols to ensure patron safety, but was not worried about a lack pf public confidence, having surveyed members a month ago.

“Eighty-six per cent, at that point, and that was three weeks ago, were either positive or very positive about it [reopening],” Ms van den Berghe said.

However, one concern at the forefront of cinema executives’ minds was the potential of a decreasing pipeline of movies.

Grand Cinemas managing director Allan Stiles said it was difficult watching movies be pushed back to later release dates or going straight to streaming services.

“Trolls went straight to demand, now we just got notice SpongeBob, a kids’ film due in September, is going straight to demand,” Mr Stiles told Business News.

Grand Cinemas, which manages six cinema complexes in Western Australia, is waiting until July 23 to open, as Mulan and Tenet are premiering around that time.

Fortuitously, Mr Stiles said, social distancing measures will be further relaxed by that time, if COVID infections remain at current levels.

He said the pandemic had inflicted the toughest times the industry had seen.

“I think it’s going to be a difficult time for the industry to get back on its feet,” he said.

Other operators, including Reading Cinemas reopened on June 25, while Hoyts and Ace Cinemas are yet to announce reopening dates.

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