Independent Cinemas Australia (ICA) is inviting federal MPs and the wider community to visit local cinemas throughout next week in an attempt to raise awareness of the pandemic’s impact on its members and secure greater financial support.
Starting on Monday, ICA – which has 99 members over 172 sites in every state and territory – will lobby the Prime Minister and Treasurer to take further action in assisting local independent cinemas through a series of meetings to be held at venues in Sydney and across Australia.
Members of the Australian film industry are also being encouraged to post on social media in support of the campaign.
CEO Adrianne Pecotic tells IF while the Federal Government’s support of the arts and entertainment community has been “great”, the serious financial impact of the global pandemic on independent cinemas needed specific attention.
“We don’t comfortably fit into the usual industry categories that are usually supported, and we are usually quite robust businesses that do not require government grants,” she says.
“While we have benefitted from Jobkeeper, 80 per cent of our staff is casual, so it has limited effect.
“The scheme is also finishing in March, which presents a massive challenge for operators.”
Eddie Tamir felt the pandemic’s disruption of cinema visitation across two states last year, with his family-run business Moving Story incorporating three Melbourne venues – The Classic in Elsternwick, Lido Cinemas in Hawthorn, Cameo Cinemas in Belgrave – as well as The Ritz Cinema in Randwick.
He says next week’s campaign is about recognising the “unusual set of circumstances” that independent cinemas have found themselves in following the pandemic.
“We’re in a situation now where, after being closed for seven months, we’ve reopened with less than half the films we would usually get,” he said.
“Most businesses still have their product but we don’t.
“A lot of people also don’t understand how critical independent cinemas are to the Australian film industry.
“Australian films do disproportionately well at independent cinemas.”
According to the ICA, Australian independent cinemas contribute up to 90 per cent of the box office revenue for Australian feature films, while also injecting $250 million into the nation’s economy every year, of which $110 million is redistributed into regional Australia.
ICA president Scott Seddon says the contribution of cinemas to their communities is multi-faceted.
“When people do go to the movies, they go to cafes and restaurants before and afterward to have dinner, or stop off to get a coffee,” he says.
“The fact that it is part of people’s need to get out of their house makes me think we have a viable industry and I believe it will be viable by the end of the year.
“There’s light at the end of the tunnel but we’ve just got to make sure the tunnel doesn’t collapse.”
Click here for more information about the campaign.