19-10-2020

Slovenian Cinemas Close Again

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LJUBLJANA: Cinemas are forced to close again according to new regulations issued by the Slovenian government due to the rising number of COVID-19 infections in Slovenia. This second closing is putting Slovenian cineplexes and art cinemas in a difficult position.

Before this second lockdown cinemas and cineplexes were enforcing strict COVID-19 regulations, such as safe distance of at least 1.5 meters apart with a personalised floor plan for every screen, hand hygiene, mandatory masks, disinfecting seats after every show in the cinema, and more time between shows for extra cleaning. All these regulations meant there were less shows and only about 36% of seats were available.

"In accordance with the government decree we closed cineplexes in Celje, Kranj and Novo mesto on 15 October, in Maribor and Murska Sobota a day later, while the cineplex in Koper is still open (for now), complying with the recommendations of the National Institute of Public Health," Andreja Purger from Cineplexx Slovenia told FNE.

Kolosej Kinematografi, which operates the cineplex Kolosej and city cinema Komuna in Ljubljana, and another cinema in Kranj, also closed its facilities.

"Due to uncertainty in the market and less capacities in theatres due to COVID-19 regulations, the line-up was reduced and later completed with mostly independent films," Ursula Spruk, Marketing and Film Stipe Jeric, the Director of Maribox cinemplexBooking Director of Kolosej Kinematografi, told FNE. She hopes that they will be able to open the cinemas in a couple of weeks. "The line-up for December seems solid and hopefully we will be able to reduce some of the financial losses for 2020. Furthermore, the line-up for 2021 looks very ambitious and promising, which gives us hope for the future."

Stipe Jerič, the Director of Maribox, is not so optimistic, saying that the new circumstances leave them in a great insecurity, as the current COVID-19 state changes from one hour to another. "In the morning we are still orange, while in the afternoon we are already red and in Maribox we must close the cinema, bars and cafes, gym and other services overnight. We are closing the cinema at a time of year that is crucial for us, as this is the time when we make more income to cover for weaker months – even though this year we cannot speak of any good months." His prediction is that Maribox income drop will be somewhere between 60 and 70 percent this year. "The future before us is very uncertain, since we do not know when we will be able to open our doors again and under what conditions. Forceful closure is causing us irreparable damage and it seems that the government will not ensure any resources to ease the crisis, which will only deepen."

Slovenian Art Cinema Network has seen the majority of its network cinemas closed as most of the regions in the country are labelled as “red”, though some of the cinemas in “orange” regions still remain open. "Even though cinemas were successful in maintaining a safe environment for filmgoers, we realise that closing down will help the efforts to eliminate the spread of COVID-19 infections and create stable conditions to reopen for the busy holiday season," Jure Matičič from the Slovenian Art Cinema Association told FNE. "As the cinemas were already closed for almost three months in the spring and were operating at reduced capacity for the rest of the year, the results are accordingly lower, with attendance more than halved and in some cases at only 30% compared to the very successful 2019. This brings a number of cinemas that were burning their reserves during the spring lockdown, close to the brink of their existence."