Movie producers, theater operators wait and see on reopening of cinemas: 'Public safety is our priority'

Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 15 2021 02:54 PM | Updated as of Feb 16 2021 01:28 AM

MANILA -- Movie producers and theater chain operators have adopted a cautious, wait-and-see attitude on the controversial reopening of cinemas and other public venues in general community quarantine (GCQ) areas like Metro Manila. 

Malacañang announced recently that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) authorized the reopening of driving schools, traditional cinemas, video and interactive game arcades, libraries, archives, museums and cultural centers, among others in areas under GCQ area to boost the economy.

Following opposition, the February 15 reopening was moved to March 1, according to the latest Malacanan bulletin Monday. 

Although they welcome the easing of quarantine restrictions, local producers and theater operators believe that ultimately, the reopening of cinemas will still be dependent on the clearance of local government units. 

Roselle Monteverde and Vincent del Rosario, who helm Regal and Viva Entertainment, respectively, told ABS-CBN News that they have the capability to provide cinemas with movie material, some of which have long been canned. Nonetheless, along with other members of the local producers association, the movie magnates are still awaiting the IATF guidelines and, more important, the guidance of mayors. 

“Kung ano ang papayagan doon lang kami, kasi concerned din kami sa spread ng virus," del Rosario said. 

Viva had previously shown the Meg Imperial title “Sana All,” the Nathalie Hart movie “Steal,” its Metro Manila Film Festival 2020 entry “Pakboys” and “Suarez, the Healing Priest” (as theater distributor partner) in select and partially reopened cinemas in GCQ areas early this year. Viva has yet to confirm the theatrical showing of the controversial project “Tililing.” 

Monteverde also cited the availability of the Regal projects “Mommy Issues” with Sue Ramirez, Pokwang and Gloria Diaz; Joey Reyes’ “Girl Online”; and the Joshua Garcia “Ang mga Kaibigan ni Mama Susan," a partnership with ABS-CBN Star Cinema for regular theatrical showing. “We shall wait for the final go signal and guidelines from all sectors concerned,” she said. 

Meanwhile, Megaworld Cinemas and SM Cinemas, which both control a vast chain of theater chains, told ABS-CBN News that they will wait for the final guidelines of the IATF and local government units. 

Bomboy Lim of Robinson Cinemas also told ABS-CBN News that the bottomline is securing the approval of local government units. “Priority din namin ang ligtas na panonood ng tao. Kailangan nating sundin ang lahat ng guidelines including the IATF. Right now, they are still making it.” 

Robinson Cinemas, which has an estimated 200 theaters nationwide in its malls nationwide, have not reopened since March 2020. 

Mayors in Metro Manila and nearby cities have opposed the reopening of cinemas amid the continuing threat of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Safety first, delikado pa rin kasi. Antayin natin 'pag ready na ang vaccines,” Antipolo City Mayor Andeng Ynares told ABS-CBN News Monday. The city has enforced strict quarantine rules with the recent closure of two malls that had to comply with health and safety requirements.

Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro also said Monday he was not keen in the reopening of cinemas and video arcades in the city.

In the meantime, movie producers will have to rely on available online and streaming platforms to showcase their projects. 

Related video:

Watch more in iWantTFC