Thailand's Major Cineplex cinema chain ravaged by Covid-19

20, May. 2020

A cinema run by Major Cineplex Group in Bangkok on March 19, 2020 (NNA)
A cinema run by Major Cineplex Group in Bangkok on March 19, 2020 (NNA)

BANGKOK, NNA—The coronavirus epidemic also struck a huge blow to cinemas in Thailand where strict social distancing measures had forced the temporary closures of entertainment and leisure establishments.

Major Cineplex Group Plc. (Major), the biggest cinema operator in Thailand with 782 cinemas at 159 locations across the country, saw its revenue plunged by 45 percent to 1.3 billion baht ($41 million) in the first quarter of 2020.

Major had shuttered its theaters in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia since March 18 in support of the government's order to close cinemas, bars, clubs, boxing stadiums and other leisure businesses to stem the spread of coronavirus infection in Bangkok.

The company's cost of sales and services amounted to 1.04 billion baht, representing a decrease of 518 million baht or 33 percent compared with the same period of last year. This is due to the decline in film hire costs which is consistent with the loss in revenues from cinema closures, said Major in its statement.

The company, which also closed its bowling, karaoke and ice-skating outlets temporarily alongside cinemas, managed to reduce its net loss in the first quarter significantly to 255 million baht, down from a 469 million baht loss in the same period last year.

As work places and schools closed in Thailand, people confining themselves at home have increased the use of the Internet.

For the first three months of 2020, Advanced Info Services Plc. (AIS) reported a sharp increase in usage by 26 percent, while True Corporation Public Co. (TRUE) said broadband internet revenue rose 4.7 percent, compared to 2019 figures.

So meanwhile, Major is promoting its YouTube platform, ‘Major Cinetube’, which releases classic Thai films daily. The channel has remarkably grabbed more than 1 million subscribers.

Theatres, one of many businesses that remain closed, are likely to reopen when Thailand has no new cases of infection or is able to keep the number of positive cases to a low single digit consistently.

Last Sunday, the kingdom reopened malls, department stores, beauty salons and telecom shops shut since March in its second stage of easing lockdowns as the number of new coronavirus cases slowed.

The government has extended a ban on passenger flights until the end of June. It reported only two new coronavirus cases on May 19.