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Singapore cinema operators Cathay and Golden propose merger as fallout from Covid-19 hits home

Mm2 Asia announced a loss of S$22.4 million for the half-year to September 30 and revenue fell by 83%.

Two of Singapore’s cinema operators have announced they are keen to merge as they try to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cathay Cineplexes, which is owned by Mm2 Asia and Golden Village, owned by Orange Sky Golden Harvest Entertainment (Holdings) Limited (OSGH) will become the largest cinema operators in Singapore if the merger were to go through.

The Projector, Singapore’s only independent cinema, also had trouble coping with the pandemic but pivoted to e-commerce and streaming.

It worked with Anticipate Pictures, one of its main distributors to organise a watch party of Portrait of a Lady on Fire hosted by author Amanda Lee Koe and filmmaker Kirsten Tan, followed by an Instagram Live Q&A session with a filmmaker and a photographer.

It also made several films available on-demand and is organising a short film competition.

Why is the merger being proposed?

  • Mm2 Asia announced a loss of S$22.4 million for the half-year to September 30 and revenue fell by 83% year on year to $19.9m, because of the Covid-19 lockdown in Singapore.
  • Golden Village did not fare any better, with the chain announcing a S$2.9 million loss for the six months ending June 30.
  • Both cinemas attributed the loss to streaming and social media platforms like Netflix and TikTok.
  • Cathay tried to cope with this with the launch of Cathay CineHome, a streaming video rental service that host a mix of films that have just ended their runs in cinemas, as well as titles launched straight to streaming.
  • There are no membership fees or monthly subscriptions. Rentals are $7.98 for new titles and $5.98 for library titles. Each rental allows viewers to watch a film an unlimited number of times for 14 days.

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