Empty movie theatres

Covid-19’s Latest South African Casualty Is The Country’s Local Box Office

By  |  February 15, 2021

South Africa has the most industrialized economy in Africa. One of the country’s known creative niches is its local box office. However, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, resulting lockdowns and stay-at-home culture, the South African box office lost as much as 83 percent of revenues in 2020.

Recession-hit South Africa had (and still has) one of the most severe lockdowns and coronavirus numbers in Africa. While the country tussles to obtain vaccine, a new variant of the virus is reported to be on loose.

Staying home and streaming content became the easier way to get entertainment since social distancing measures are exactly practical in local movies theatres.

As a result of these changes, the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) reports that incomes from movies only amounted to USD 13.8 Mn last year, compared to the USD 82.8 Mn that 190 movie titles fetched for the country in 2019.

In 2020, only 96 titles could be released, another reason the revenues generated experienced a rather heavy head dive.

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When the first coronavirus wave hit South Africa, the hard lockdown measures that followed effectively closed local theatres for 5 months.

Also, the pandemic brought film production to a halt not just in the country, but also across the world. Even big titles like the fresh James Bond revamp, No Time To Die, was postponed. Much of the content, though, were moved to streaming services.

Except blockbusters return to the screens early, local theatres still have a long time to remain closed. Meanwhile, the effects are already manifesting on the outside.

In January 2021, almost-50-year-old Ster Kinekor, which sits on nothing less than 53 functional theatres in the country, decided it was time for the business to go into voluntary rescue.

A local rival known as Nu Metro said it is in good financial standing and that patrons have started returning to its theatres. Nevertheless, the business admits that numbers it has realized now aren’t as great as those it got the previous year.

As it seems, local theatres might have to do more than just show titles to bring viewers back into the cinemas, away from streaming alternatives.

Featured Image: Variety.com

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