It took way too long to re-open Nigerian cinemas, especially in Lagos.
Trust me; a six months hiatus for any business concern is sure to leave an indelible mark in its operation.
And we totally understand that the shutdown was for a good reason but when on the 11th of September other states promptly re-opened their cinema houses, Lagos State didn’t budge and that took a toll on stakeholders of the industry.
This came after the attempt by interested parties to force the hand of the Lagos State government to prematurely direct the re-opening, with the #SaveCinemas hash tag that made the rounds.
Areas around the world with more severe covid statistics have opened their cinemas to the public already.
Fast forward weeks later and the directive to re-open Lagos cinemas was given, with a mandate to keep to a 33% crowd capacity. That is, maintaining a two seat minimum distance between occupied seats.
Stakeholder excitement went through the roof because after weeks of not functioning, losing their loyal fan base to the video on demand giant, Netflix, they could finally get back their lot.
But they were so wrong.
Movies were hurriedly scheduled; ads prepared and put in people’s faces, safety measures implementation were touted to encourage patronage.
Social distancing for queues, online ticketing to encourage contactless payment, use of face masks and gloves by staff, sanitization of screens and anything else that made them look reasonably health conscious.
But the protracted time spent indoors had taken a strange toll on our collective desire for pleasure or so it seemed, because the turnout shocked everyone.
People just didn’t come out.
Then as the cinema houses were scratching their heads in confusion non-stop, trying to solve the mystery of how Lagosians had mysteriously changed from the outdoor, fun loving tribe we have come to know, to the more reclusive, indoor variety that we now see; one trigger happy policeman somewhere in Delta State shot some innocent boy and changed everything.
People totally forgot how to relax and took to the streets in a nationwide protest.
The multi-million dollar investments made in cinemas in the form of MX4D, IMAX & 4DX theatre halls was in hindsight looking like an amateur’s decision. Movie ticket sellers and personnel working in the space began to count their losses.
As the dust settles in the aftermath of the protest, curfew and partial lockdown, Cinema houses have been through a rollercoaster stop and start ride that has done nothing for their patronage and profits.
The good news is that Cinemas are open again but the question is are Nigerians willing to meet them halfway?
This article was written by Henri ‘Yire; connect on Instagram with him here