Indie cinema The Projector to go on hiatus from May 31 to June 13

The Projector will be shutting its main location at Golden Mile Tower and its pop-up at Riverside Point. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

SINGAPORE - Independent cinema The Projector is pausing operations from May 31 to June 13.

This makes it the second Singapore operator in recent days to voluntarily go dark due to tough business conditions caused by new Covid-19 containment measures.

Last week, Filmgarde Cineplexes announced it would close all three of its cinemas until conditions improve.

On Saturday (May 22), The Projector announced on its Instagram page that it would shut its main location at Golden Mile Tower and its pop-up at Riverside Point.

The cinema, which specialises in arthouse works, is a small player in an industry dominated by Golden Village Multiplex (14 outlets), Shaw Theatres (nine outlets) and Cathay Cineplexes (eight outlets).

Under the new rules, which end on June 13, cinemas can allow up to 50 people in a hall per screening without pre-event testing. Group sizes are limited to two and safe distancing measures must be in place. Food and beverages are not to be consumed on the cinema premises.

In a statement to The Straits Times, The Projector's general manager Prashant Somosundram cites "severely restricted capacity, no food and beverages sales on premises, low job support grants and no rental relief" as reasons for the temporary closure.

"The current restrictions are the most severe since the start of Covid-19," he says.

On-site food sales are crucial to cinemas, which, unlike restaurants, cannot easily pivot to takeaways or deliveries, he adds.

Food is part of the moviegoing experience, he says, and when patrons can neither dine at his cinema's Intermission Bar nor at nearby restaurants because of dine-in restrictions, watching a movie loses its appeal.

"We have suggested that guests consume takeaway meals in nearby parks, but this is subject to prevailing weather conditions. This has led to falling attendance at the cinema," he says.

With the cinema's 21 employees on unpaid leave during the closure, operating costs will be lowered, he says.

The cinema's Instagram post encourages supporters to watch films on its Projector Plus streaming site, which will continue to operate.

"The pandemic has been one roller-coaster ride, but we're determined to see the end of the tunnel with you," the post concludes. "Wait for us, OK, we'll be back stronger."

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