Jul 15, 2013

    Cinemas all out to woo movie-goers

    WITH the recent release of blockbusters such as Man Of Steel and Despicable Me 2, cinemas here have been chock-a-block with movie buffs eager to lap up the latest box-office hit.

    But if overall numbers are anything to go by, cinema visitorship in Singapore is actually on the decline for the first time in several years. And cinema operators are going all out to woo movie-goers and stem the decline, such as with new luxury features which they believe consumers will splash out on.

    According to figures from the Singapore Department of Statistics, cinema attendance - based on the number of tickets bought - fell from about 22.1 million in 2011 to 20.9 million last year, or a drop of just over 5 per cent. Attendance had previously grown from 19.6 million in 2009 to 20.3 million in 2010.

    Reasons cited by cinema operators for the drop in visitorship include an increasing prevalence of online movie piracy or simply the popularity of movies released last year.

    A spokesman for Golden Village (GV), which has 11 multiplex locations housing 87 screens islandwide, said: "We have noticed a weakness in visitorship, especially on weekdays.

    "This could partially be due to the hectic, time-starved lifestyle of Singaporeans who can barely find time to enjoy a mid-week movie outing."

    In a bid to keep things fresh for movie-goers and keep them going back, cinema chains have been rolling out new concepts.

    The latest to do so is Cathay, which announced the completion of three new halls at its Cineleisure Orchard location last month.

    The three-month expansion of the premises cost about $5 million, and makes its flagship cineplex the largest cinema in Singapore, with 15 halls and 2,281 seats, the company said.

    The chain attributed the decline in ticket sales to the varying appeal of movies released each year.

    Mr Mark Shaw, executive vice-president of operations of industry player Shaw Organisation, said that keeping customers' interests in mind helps the company maintain its "established presence".

    For instance, to enhance the movie-going experience, its flagship Lido cineplex in Shaw House underwent a $20-million overhaul in 2010. It re-opened in May the following year with the first digital IMAX theatre in Singapore.

    It introduced its second IMAX theatre at JCube last year, and will introduce its third when its Punggol location opens in 2015.

    Mr Shaw said: "Our strategy is to be constantly evolving along with our patrons' needs, and to introduce developments that will make a significant difference to the cinema-going experience."