WARSAW: Cinema operators, including national chains Multikino, Helios and Cinema City, call in an open letter to the Polish Minister of Development for support in connection with the closure of cinemas due to the Coronavirus.
Cinemas throughout Poland have been closed since 12 March 2020, as are theatres, museums and educational institutions, and they will stay closed until 25 March 2020. On 15 March 2020 the government decided to shut down all shops (except for groceries, drugstores and pharmacies), restaurants, pubs and casinos, and banned gatherings of over 50 people.
Over the weekend, representatives of the cinema sector, including Multikino, Helios (which belongs to Agora) and Cinema City, sent a joint open letter to the Minister of Development. “We are one of the first industries severely affected by the epidemic”, they emphasised. “We are not able to generate any income, while bearing huge costs of loans, rent and employee salaries. We have no way of replacing current sources of income with others and our revenues are zero at this time”, the letter says.
The cinema industry suggests to the government specific actions that will help it survive the current situation. They propose the adoption of a shielding act covering, among others, wage subsidies so as to limit redundancies. They also want to temporarily limit payments made by cinemas to the fund supporting film production. In addition, cinema networks expect a reduction of fixed charges for the distribution of electricity (closed cinemas hardly consume it) and the possibility of obtaining debt financing or bank guarantees so that wages can be paid.
Helios owns 49 cinemas with 277 screens and 52.4 thousand seats. In turn, Multikino has 33 cinemas in 27 Polish cities with a total of 267 screens, while Cinema City operates 34 cinemas (including six with 4DX screens and IMAX theatres in six) in 19 cities.
Before the Coronavirus epidemic in Poland, the cinema industry was on the verge of another stage of the price war. On 5 March 2020, Cinema City reduced the ticket prices (to 3.3- 3.7 EUR / 15-17 PLN) and prices of their Unlimited cards, and the next day Helios announced a reduction in ticket prices across the entire network to 3.07 EUR / 14.90 PLN.