THE days of looking up at a big cinema screen could sadly be over, according to businessman Derek Chin, speaking to Newsday on Sunday.
He said the MovieTowne cinemas might not reopen, as a ban on patrons buying snacks and drinks now threatens to make cinemas uneconomical.
While the Prime Minister on Saturday lifted his previous shutdown of cinemas, aimed at curbing covid19, Chin lamented the ban on snack sales.
He said food and drink are the cinema’s main revenue-earner, along with advertising, in excess of earnings from box office sales, which are shared 50-50 with the landlord.
“I’m disappointed by what’s happened.
“People will say, ‘Why am I going to the cinema if I can’t get a hot dog?’”
Chin said on Monday he will meet officials of Caribbean Cinemas and Imax to discuss whether it makes economic sense to reopen, after which an announcement will be made.
He feared if new cases of covid19 rise from current levels of about 40 per day to, say, 70 per day, Dr Rowley might again close cinemas.
“You can’t be up and down, in and out,” Chin said of running a business.
He said the World Health Organization had warned of the economic cost of lockdowns.
“Right now, I am leaning towards not reopening.
“We’d like the Government to take a second look.”
Chin reckoned that with physical distancing and everyone facing the same direction looking at the screen, food and drinks could be safely consumed in cinemas, keeping them a viable enterprise.
“The notion of cinemas being a breeding ground for covid is simply not true. No outbreaks can be traced to cinemas.
“I’m obviously very disappointed. Hopefully all is not lost and we could talk to the Government.”
Asked if drive-in cinemas were the future, he said they too had economic costs, as patrons may prefer indoor air-conditioned cinemas rather than facing mosquitoes outdoors.