Aussie cinemas forced to close amid coronavirus lockdown

Clare Rigden
Columnist

Coronavirus live blog: Latest news and updates about the crisis in Australia

Hoyts cinemas has closed its doors. Photo: Getty

Hoyts, Palace Cinemas and Event Cinemas announced today that they would be closing their doors indefinitely due to recently announced COVID-19 lock-down measures.

The announcements came after the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, gave an evening press conference yesterday, detailing State and Federal plans to force clubs, pubs, churches and cinemas to close their doors from Midday today to help stem the spread of the Coronavirus.

The National Cabinet agreed on a range of new restrictions for indoor venues, effective Midday, Monday March 23. 

“We now need to take action because we cannot have the confidence as a group of leaders that the social distancing guidelines and rules that we have put in place won't be followed to the level of compliance that we require to flatten the curve and slow the spread and save lives," Mr Morrison said.

Palace Cinemas close venues

Palace Cinemas were the first to announce pre-emptive closure of their venues following the Federal Government’s ban on all “non-essential” gatherings of more than 100 people last week.

In a statement, the chain, which operates 17 venues nationally, said they would endeavour to re-open as soon as circumstances allowed.

“We sincerely thank you all for your patronage and support during this unprecedented time and our excellent staff for their efforts and dedication under challenging circumstances. Rest assured we will be back offering sublime entertainment and a place to indulge and escape when it is safe to do so.”

What movie theatres will look like amid lockdown. Photo: Getty

Hoyts and Event Cinemas shut theatre doors

Hoyts today announced they would be taking an “intermission,” while Event Cinemas said staff would be able to draw on leave allowances and that negative leave balances would be offered in an attempt to retain staff.

“In order to preserve as many jobs as possible for the future, Event Cinemas will temporarily stand down the majority of cinema employees from Friday, March 27 until the end of May 2020, and will assess the situation again at the point in time,” General Manager of Entertainment, Luke Mackey said.

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Movie production and releases pushed back

Several Hollywood blockbusters have seen their release dates pushed back or changed because of the crisis. Movies effected include the latest Bond movie, Mulan and A Quiet Place 2

Other films have adapted their distribution strategy on the fly – Trolls: World Tour will be released to video-on-demand services next month, Disney recently revealed they have pushed forward the streaming release of Frozen 2, and The Lovebirds, which was slated to be released in April has now been bought by Netflix, for immediate release on their streaming platform. 

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