Video piracy a headache for cinemas
Video piracy remains the number one concern for cinema operators on the island.
In addition, Limegrove Cinemas director Phil Harden believes the fees associated with film censorship were too high.
“Our biggest challenge in Barbados is two-fold: one is video piracy; even new movies are available in the video shops as if they were legitimate businesses. That of course creates a bit of a challenge for our business.
“The second thing is [that] the censorship of films is quite costly. We have to pay for every film to be censored here in Barbados,” he said, adding that operating costs were also high.
Harden told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that despite the ratings on films from the motion picture associations behind the films, Barbados had its own ratings “and in a small market that is quite a heavy burden for cinemas to bear”.
The censorship charge is about $150 per title. This is payable to the Film Censorship Board.
Harden said a lot of the movie audiences would sometimes complain about the ratings, adding that they were sometimes “more restrictive than in other countries”.
“So that coupled with the fact that you can walk into any video store and get the same movie without any restriction on ratings is very unfair to businesses operating legitimately,” he said.
“The fact that it only affects cinemas and not other media is an added burden and given that this is a discussion of the economics of our industry, that is an issue that is affecting us economically and I would say unfairly, because a lot of other industries – TV, Internet, video shops – are not being affected by this and they do not bear these costs or suffer these restrictions.
“Those two issues work together against cinemas,” added Harden.
Olympus Theatres managing director John Morgan said the charges associated with film censorship were “not really an issue” but agreed that illegal digital versatile discs (DVDs) would affect his business.
He was quick to point out, however, that with innovations, cinemas could still keep people coming.
“Pirated DVDs, and especially Internet downloading, are a concern in that it is an illegal trade,” he said.
“But I think that now with multiscreen cinemas like Olympus which offer so much variety . . . and on-time film releases, including 3D as well as state-of-the-art technical equipment, [people] prefer to forgo bad DVDs in favour of a great night out,” said Morgan. (MM)