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Cinemas become places for marriage proposals, co-working and playing video games

SINGAPORE — Last December, Mr Khoo Sze Fan surprised his fiancee, who thought she was going to watch a movie with her friend, by proposing to her in a cinema hall.

Cinemas become places for marriage proposals, co-working and playing video games

Mr Dennis Ng, 34, booked a hall at Eaglewings Cinematics for his wedding in July last year.

  • After receiving more requests to rent their halls for marriage proposals, independent cinema Eaglewings Cinematics started piloting proposal packages
  • In October last year, cinema operator Golden Village converted its lounges at Suntec City into co-working spaces
  • These are some ways in which cinemas have diversified their revenue streams, as business has slowed down due to social distancing measures

 

SINGAPORE — Last December, Mr Khoo Sze Fan surprised his fiancee, who thought she was going to watch a movie with her friend, by proposing to her in a cinema hall.

“I decided on this venue because I wanted to do something different compared to proposing in hotels,” said the 27-year-old, who works in operations.

He booked one of Eaglewings Cinematics’ halls for two hours and screened a video montage during the proposal. The entire experience cost him less than S$300, he said.

From allowing bookings for proposals and weddings to converting lounges into co-working spaces, cinema operators are banking on new ways to stay afloat amid a general slowdown in business because of social distancing measures.

Eaglewings Cinematics, an independent cinema, started piloting “proposal packages” after receiving more requests to book their premises for proposals after the circuit breaker.

In December last year, they received three such enquiries, and received another two in the first half of January 2021.

Operations and marketing manager Ivan Lau from Eaglewings Group, the cinema’s parent company, said: “It’s a small event that fits the current situation.”

Hall bookings are packaged into 15-minute blocks that cost S$50 on weekdays and S$80 on weekends.

Customers can also request additional services like video screenings.

Mr Dennis Ng, 34, booked a hall at Eaglewings Cinematics for his wedding in July last year.

He and his wife booked the hall for 20 people, including themselves, for the afternoon and evening, with food supplied from the cinema’s sister food and beverage arm Eaglewings Loft.

“We felt nervous, not being able to invite everyone we wanted to,” said the personal assistant. “There was pressure to make sure everything is perfect for the small group invited.”

Larger cinema operators have also sought other revenue streams. Last October, Golden Village converted its Gold Class lounges at Suntec City into co-working spaces.

“We wanted to provide a space for those working from home as a result of the pandemic,” the operator told TODAY.

For the current promotional price of S$15 — down from the usual price of S$25 — customers can use the space for six hours.

Golden Village also branched into e-commerce, selling movie merchandise on eCapitalMall and Shopee, and food delivery, in which patrons can order movie snacks via Foodpanda.

More customers have also started enquiring about renting cinema halls for purposes such as playing video games or private movie screenings, Golden Village said in a statement.

“The overall response from the public has been positive,” the operator added. “We assess each request individually to ensure they meet prevailing safe management measures.”

Golden Village converted its Gold Class lounges at Suntec City into co-working spaces. Photo: Golden Village

CINEMAS TO KICKSTART LIVE EVENTS, HYBRID EVENTS

Some cinemas, like The Projector, will resume live performances after receiving the go-ahead from the Infocomm Media Development Authority.

Mr Prashant Somosundram, general manager at The Projector, said they hope to start hosting live events, such as comedy nights, starting from February, with the required safe distancing measures.

Several cinemas have also started offering video-on-demand.

For The Projector, Mr Prashant said that their video-on-demand platform, Projector Plus, has helped them reach a demographic that does not usually go to the cinema, such as parents who have to care for their children.

Visual arts space Objectifs Centre for Photography and Film initially planned to create a physical film library of short films from Southeast Asia, but Covid-19 drove the project online.

Patrons can rent films from Objectifs for three days. Films 30 minutes or shorter cost US$1.50 (S$2), and those that are longer cost between US$2 and US$4.

Objectifs’ senior manager Leong Puiyee described the response as “very encouraging”, with people from around Southeast Asia and Europe renting the films.

By early February, the centre hopes to open the physical library, which can hold up to two people.

With the transition to video-on-demand, cinemas are also having hybrid arrangements for events.

For example, for Singapore Arts Week, The Projector is screening three movies physically at the cinema while another three will be available via its video-on-demand platform, said Mr Prashant.

The Asian Film Archive, which runs Oldham Theatre, recently launched multidisciplinary arts event State of Motion that comprises physical screenings at its theatre and other venues, as well as virtual screenings via the archive’s video-on-demand platform.

Related topics

cinema business Covid-19 social distancing measures

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