Though our world has seen several catastrophes recently, none of them has impacted humanity as severely as COVID 19 has. Nowhere else is this impact more visible than in the cinema industry as the majority of movie theatres across the world were forced to close their doors since mid-march. LinkUp’s Dibora analyzes how cinemas in Addis are doing.
Addis has seen immense growth in the number of movie-goers over the month leading to the outbreak of COVID-19, and while the market for Amharic movies had been declining for several reasons, Hollywood movies were seeing their peak in the city with the opening of multiple cinemas in town. Movie lovers didn’t even wait more than a week to watch the most anticipated Hollywood or local cinema in their favorite movie theatre.
Movie theatres in the capital have been among the places hosting people in different age groups. It would also be safe to say they are one of the busiest entertainment venues rich in a large number of audiences throughout the weeks.
“After we closed down our cinemas, the revenue has dropped to zero forcing us to pay our staff half of their salary,”
After the pandemic that abruptly changed everything in the world, cinema halls all over the city have been shuttered since the end of March to reduce the danger.
The cinema Matti multiplex in Edna mall, the city’s most popular cinema for showing the latest Hollywood, foreign and local films are facing huge losses after its three movie halls closed in April.
“The movie theatre was showing latest Hollywood movies within three days after their release dates, and as many as 300 customers used to buy tickets per day to watch a single movie,” says Tesfamariam Seyoum, General Manager of Matti multiplex, “After we closed down our cinemas, the revenue has dropped to zero forcing us to pay our staff half of their salary,” he explains the challenge.
Century cinema, another movie theatre showing Hollywood and local cinemas also has shut down even before the first report of COVID-19 in Ethiopia. The cinema has been showing the latest Hollywood and Ethiopian movies since its launch two years ago.
“Though the pandemic hit our cinema business, we believed our customers’ safety comes first. We decided to shut down the cinema before the first COVID-19 case was reported in Ethiopia,” Explains Natnael Endale, Manager of Century Cinema.
Embilta Cinema, which has been running under Embilta Hotel, shut its movie theatre that has been showing only local films for a decade
Simegn Shiferaw, Manager of Embilta Cinema explains, “Despite the huge crisis we are in, Embilta is still paying salaries for its employees. Summer was the booming season for our cinema. But unlike the past summers, we will incur too much loss in this one because of the shutdown.” He adds, “In collaboration with Film producers association, we have submitted a request to Culture and tourism ministry to allow us to work in line with the COVID 19 restrictions. We are currently waiting for their response.”
Not only the theatres but also the country’s cinema industry as a whole has been substantially affected by the pandemic. All ongoing film productions are forced to cease. The professionals are distressing from financial and moral damages.
According to Tariku Dessalegn, A Director, scriptwriter, and cinematographer who has been researching impacts of COVID 19 on Ethiopia’s cinema, “I was on filmmaking when the pandemic broke out in the country. Though I have invested lots of money for the production, I am forced to stop it now,” notes Tariku. “The challenge I faced initiated me to research to discover the current cinema industry’s moral and financial stamina. Then I figured that without the government’s attention, the industry will probably die soon. ” Tariku explains.