Show's over at UA Cinemas amid pandemic - RTHK
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Show's over at UA Cinemas amid pandemic

2021-03-08 HKT 13:06
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  • Show's over at UA Cinemas amid pandemic
Daniel Chan speaks to RTHK's Joanne Wong
One of Hong Kong's largest cinema chains, UA Cinemas, on Monday announced it's closing after 36 years "due to unavoidable and devastating pressure faced by our operations since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic".

"This is definitely a painful and difficult decision," a statement posted on its website read.

UA Cinemas opened in 1985 and ran six theatres across the territory. It was also the first company to introduce the IMAX screen to Hong Kong.

"I feel sad," said a woman surnamed Lee, who was hoping to watch a film with her mother at UA Cinemas in Times Square.

She said she's going to miss the cinema chain, especially the one in Causeway Bay because she had been going there since she was a child.

A retired couple who arrived only to find out the cinema chain is closed said it meant fewer choices for consumers and many people losing their jobs.

Film critic Daniel Chan said the government could have offered greater support to the film industry which was battered by Covid-19.

"They should give subsidies to every cinema to cover the rent and lease. That's the least they can do, I think," he told RTHK's Joanne Wong.

Cinemas in Hong Kong were shut down for periods since the start of the pandemic, most recently between early December and mid-February after the end of the Chinese New Year holiday.

The government has twice provided a one-off subsidy to cinemas, capped at HK$3 million each, in the past year.

Chan also pointed out that the ecosystem of the movie industry has been evolving.

"I think UA's closure means this kind of business, cinema operation may be a bit outdated. That's why they can't really sustain.

"I see there's also Netflix and online streaming, there are a lot of platforms we can explore for film distribution, film exhibition, so we can't just rely on cinema.

"I myself... I really enjoy watching films on the big screen. I think it's really important, but not for everyone, right? Because everyone has TV, has Netflix, we have dozens of entertainment on our phone. Who needs cinema? We have to rethink our relationship with cinema, really."