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Good year for cinema

Marlon Madden

Good year for cinema

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Despite persistently harsh economic conditions there has been no noticeable fall-off in the number of movie goers on the island.
Management at the island’s three movie houses – Limegrove Cinemas, Globe Drive-In and The Olympus Theatres – have reported a satisfactory 2012 and said they were optimistic about 2013.
Limegrove Cinemas opened in Holetown, St James, December 2011, currently employing more than 25 staff and planning to hire more.
Director Phil Harden told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that Limegrove was prepared to make any necessary changes should the cinema sector require it.
“We met all of our targets in terms of attendance and sales, so I think we had a very successful year despite the challenges of the economy and the usual challenges that a first year of business faces.
“I think we had a very good year and we are looking forward to a good year this year as well,” he said.
“I remember a few years ago people were wondering if cinema was declining and now it seems to be on the rise again. It all has to do with the quality of the product and once we are able to source good movies like we have coming this year, I think the cinemas will be fine,” added Harden.
He said while movie theatres attracted a wide audience, most were between 17 and 35 years and “a lot of families come for family films”.
Asked if there was room for improvement, Harden said, “I think that Limegrove Cinemas was needed for a long time in that area . . . now the cinema has been widely received, not just because it is a new one but also because it is an innovative cinema.
“We get people even from Britain who come and say they don’t have anything that nice.”
Meanwhile, a member of the Globe Drive-In management team, Azzard Ali, said while he was not able to provide statistics, 2012 was “not really a bad year”.
The drive-in at Adam’s Castle, Christ Church, currently employs 20. The Ali family also owned the Globe Cinema on Roebuck Street, which closed last year and resulted in 13 people losing their jobs.
“To me, the industry remains the same but the only thing is, the up-to-date cinemas carry 3D and that is the only change in the industry I see so far.
“The drive-in has its own audience. There are some people who will not go to a cinema – some people are diehard drive-in patrons,” he said.
Ali was quick to admit, however, that there was some level of competition last year following the introduction of Limegrove Cinemas.
“But whatever movie the public wants to see and they want to watch it at the drive-in, they are going to come out and watch,” he said.
Opting not to provide details, Ali said the business was hoping to do “something that would enhance the experience at the drive-in” over the coming months.
Olympus Theatres’ managing director John Morgan said last year was “a fairly good” one with “some surprising flops, like Battleship”. However, without providing figures, he said movie attendance in 2012 was “more or less the same” as in 2011.
Olympus currently employs 40 people. Morgan said Olympus did not lay off any staff during 2012 and did not plan to do so this year.
“We are seeing a trend where people are not rushing down to see a movie in its first week. My feeling is that we are all leading busy and diverse lifestyles, and cinemas must accommodate.
“It is not always that one can watch the movie [in its] first week . . . but eventually, you do come to see the movie,” he said, adding that there could be a number of reasons.
He also said that “concession [vending] per head had increased [in 2012] and we feel this has to do with improvements in service and preparation time, thus cutting down the time waiting in line”.
Operational costs, he said, remained a challenge for the cinemas. (MM)