The COVID-19 pandemic has distracted the global film industry, halting film production and closing cinemas.
Global box office revenues totalled US$42 billion last year, contributing almost one-third of the estimated US$136 billion in the value of worldwide movie production and distribution.
According to PwC’s entertainment and media outlook: 2018 – 2022, Ghana’s Entertainment and Media industry has more than tripled in value since 2013, with the total revenue reaching US$752 million in 2017.
The report projected the industry earning about US$1.5 billion in 2022.
But with the onset of the pandemic which has accelerated the ongoing transformation in movie production, distribution and consumption, this projection might not be achieved.
Back in the day, places such as Rex Cinema and Roxy Cinemas were the go-to movie theatres. But after going out of business years ago, the buildings can hardly be recognized.
Now, most people troop into the Silverbird Cinemas and Global cinemas to watch a movie, or visit private movie rooms.
President Akufo-Addo in March 2020 banned all public gatherings including movie cinemas as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus in the country.
Although the President has lifted majority of the restrictions, the cinemas, just like the night clubs still remain closed. Those who patronize these movie centres are certainly concerned.
Gretel Assigbey, who frequently goes to the cinemas just to relax said, “With the several times that I’ve been at the cinema, it wasn’t crowded. So I don’t know why they’ve been closed down. Observing social distance at the cinema wouldn’t be difficult because they have time slots for several movies.”
Prince Obeng Akomeah on the other hand has not been to a cinema before, but had plans of going this year.
“The pandemic has spoilt a lot of plans. Because I wanted to go to the cinema but because of the lockdown and the safety protocols, I would prefer to stay home and stay safe,” he said.
Looking at how the pandemic has shaped people’s minds in avoiding crowded places, Citi Business News sought to find out whether they would patronize cinemas when the pandemic is over.
“Going to the cinema is something that I’ve looked forward to for a while. I want to experience it for myself. I would go watch a movie with someone if the cinemas are open,” noted
Gretel, who admitted she has contacts to the Silverbird Cinemas exclaimed, “Whether COVID-19 is over or not, if they open the cinemas, I’ll go.”
Prince Akomeah admitted, “If the protocols are to be released, I won’t wait. I will go in no time.”
“I haven’t been to the cinema before. But if the pandemic is over, of course, I will go,” another gentleman, Samuel Dankwa noted.
On the flip side, there are other people who have come up with an innovative way to still give Ghanaians the cinema experience in these difficult times.
Drive-in cinemas, which seems to be the new trend, allows customers to watch movies on large screens, just like in the traditional theatres, but in the comfort of their vehicles.
The Social Media Manager for Hype.Up, the organizers of ParkNWatch, Abba Manu, told Citi Business News about how the business started.
“We started last year in December. We are a creative agency, so we are always looking for innovative ways to bring new ideas in town. So we just thought this business is not happening in Ghana so let’s give Ghanaians a whole new experience. When we started, COVID wasn’t there, but it has made the business more relevant now.”
But how well have people embraced this idea of staying in their vehicles and watching several movies on large screens?
Abba Manu responded, “Innovations are quite hard to implement because you are introducing something new. In Ghana, the whole cinema thing is not that much patronized. People are just waiting for someone to experience it before they try it. So in the beginning, it was a bit difficult getting people to come but now it has gone up pretty well.”
Abba Manu further asked for support from stakeholders in the industry and the government to push the business.
“We have done extremely well on our own but if the government will come on board, it will be a great way to support because it’s a great initiative and it’s providing a safer source of entertainment to Ghanaians. It’s also a perfect avenue for local producers and filmmakers to premier their movies because the future is digital, so we urge them to come on board,” she stressed.