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What the ‘New Normal’ holds for Nigerian Cinema industry

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When cinemas across Lagos shut down activities on March 24, following the advice of the state government, most expected that the shutdown would not last for long.  

Genesis Cinema, in its announcement, stated, “As this is an evolving situation, we will keep you updated and we look forward to welcoming you back soon with the best cinema experience. 

Filmhouse also released an official statement saying“We look forward to welcoming you with the best possible cinema experience as soon as things return to normal. 

Little did they know that the word “normal” would be redefined over the next couple of months to become “new normal. 

Impact of the lockdown 

Now, the various state governors have commenced easing of the lockdown (which had been placed nationwide to curb the spread of covid-19) and a gradual reopening of the economy. In spite of this, the fate of cinemas, just like most entertainment outlets, is largely uncertain.  

Nairametrics had done an analysis of the Q1 performances of cinemas in Nigeria, and findings in that article showed a significant drop in their weekly revenues between February and March 2020.

 Also, available data from CEAN  shows that the last filming week for cinemas was 20 to 26 March, 2020, and since then no income has been recorded.  

As a result of this, several movies selling at the box office were suspended, while others scheduled for release were postponed. In fact, the film calendar for Nigerian cinemas has been completely upturned, courtesy of the pandemic.  

Movies like Going Bananas2 Weeks in LagosLemonadeThe Good Husband, and others slated for release in April and May have been postponed indefinitely. Omoni Oboli, notable Nigerian actress and filmmaker, who was shooting a new Tv series, Last Year Single, had to halt the production abruptly, and no one could say for sure when things would become normal again. 

Seeking possible solutions  

There may yet be hope for the industry, even as it proceeds into the second half of the year. However, there will have to be huge sacrifices and adjustments made, and the result is that cinemas will no longer be what you used to know.  

So, here’s what you should expect from the ‘new normal’ in the industry.  

 

Drive-in screening of movies 

Just recently, the drive-in cinema was experienced for the first time in Nigeria. Foremost filmmaker, Charles Okpalekehas pioneered the concept with the screening of the Living in Bondage sequel, which was screened at the drive-in cinema holding at Transcorp Hilton car park, Abuja. 

Silverbird cinemas also had its first drive-in cinema experience, when it screened the Legend of Inikpi on Sunday June 7, in Abujawith plans to replicate it in Lagos and Port Harcourt. 

Genesis Cinemas has also announced similar plans to commence the drive-in cinema experience.  

Bukunmi Sobowale, Public Relations Officer of Trina Studios, a movie production firm, insists that Nigerians should definitely expect more of the drive-in cinema experience as we move forward towards a total ease of the lockdown 

A drive-in theatre or drive-in cinema is structured with a large outdoor movie screen, a projection booth, a concession stand, and a large parking area for automobiles where customers can view movies from the privacy and comfort of their cars. 

As we can easily deduce from Okpaleke’s statement, this is an attempt to keep business moving, without violating the physical distancing guidelines.  

 

More checks for traditional cinema 

Even when the normal theatres resume, adjustments are expected. In a bid to check the number of admitted persons, ticket reservation will now be done strictly online and there will be a controlled seating arrangement. This is only one of the guidelines which the Cinema Exhibitors Association of Nigeria CEAN has put in place.  

For movie-lovers, getting into the cinema is going to require more than a ticket check. Guests will have to undergo temperature checks and other safety measures before being allowed in, and of course, everyone is expected to wear a nose mask.  

Rest rooms will now also be strictly regulated to allow for usage based on capacity 

Naturally, the cinema staff will also be expected to use nose masks and gloves while carrying out their duties.  

Change of viewing schedules and seating arrangements 

Among the directives which the authorities have passed down to cinema owners, they will have to increase clean-up time in between shows to allow for deep cleaning, and all movie schedules will take the existing curfew laws into consideration.  

Like the Lagos state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Oluhad said in a recent briefingcinemas will have to recalibrate their space management strategy as part of the Register-to-open initiatives before they can be allowed.  

This could mean anything from taking some seats out of the cinema halls, to completely altering the hall arrangement. Physical distancing also has to be strictly applied at the receptions to ensure that no one is within a two metre distance of another person.  

Specifically, the cinemas are no longer allowed to seat more than 50% viewing audience per screen, and physical distancing is to be strictly enforced. 

The 20 minutes end-time in between shows will also keep traffic in the foyers in check.   

 

Embracing the new normal 

Despite adjustments madeone wonders how ready Nigerians are to get back to the cinema viewing experience. Most people would likely still be wary of potentially crowded places for a long time, except where it is absolutely unavoidable.  

In this covid-19 era, I think cinema culture as we know it is gone. Even if people continue going to the cinemas, the little intimates we take for granted would be absent – no more leaning over to the next seat to have whispered conversations with loved ones as the moviego on.  

Most irksome is the fact that you may not even get to scream or laugh out loud, courtesy of the compulsory nose masks you have to put on.  

For all we know, the fun days of the cinema may be gone!

At least, until a vaccine is found for the virus

COVID-19

Why we didn’t distribute looted COVID-19 palliatives- Osun

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The Osun Food and Relief Committee on COVID-19 on Friday said the looted items at a warehouse in Ede town were not hoarded, but rather kept for flag-off of official distribution.

Alhaji Bayo Jimoh, Secretary to the committee, in a statement in Osogbo, said that the looted items were donated to the committee as palliatives to the people by Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some angry youths in the early hours of Friday broke into a warehouse in Ede town and carted away COVID-19 palliatives meant for distribution.

Items such as beans, noodles, sugar, salt, garri, rice, pastas, vegetable oil, among others, were looted from the warehouse located within the moribund Cocoa Industry, Ede.

The incident, however, happened barely 24-hours after the state government announced the suspension of dusk-till-dawn curfew imposed following the #EndSARS protest.

NAN reports that Gov. Adegboyega Oyetola had in April inaugurated a 21-member Food and Relief Committee to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on the people of the state.

Jimoh, however, said that the looted food items had no direct bearing with the state government, adding that the items were within the purview of the Food and Relief Committee.

He said as such, the items could only be distributed after a formal flag-off by the CACOVID Office, Abuja.

The statement read partly, ” We do not have the authority to distribute the food items without approval from Abuja.

” Besides, the Committee is still expecting the rice component of the donated items, which is 40, 230 bags of 5kg.

“All these are part of the reasons the items were still in the warehouse up till the time of the invasion.

“The following items were donated; Pasta FMN – 29, 992; Pasta OLAM -10, 282; Noodles- 80, 644; Garri -40, 322; Salt- 40, 320; and Sugar – 40, 227.

“However, the rice components of the donated items are yet to be delivered until now.

The Committee wrote to CACOVID as recently as Sept. 28, 2020, reminding it of the rice component, which is yet to be delivered.

“However, until this moment, we are yet to receive response from CACOVID.

“This is the truth about the status of the donated relief items until the unfortunate looting,” Jimoh said.

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ECOWAS donates food items worth $4million to Nigeria, 3 others

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has donated food items worth $4 million to four member states, including Nigeria, to mitigate impacts of their humanitarian needs.

Ms Fatima Jagne, ECOWAS Commissioner for Gender and Social Affairs, made this known during the commemoration of the 2020 World Humanitarian Day on Wednesday in Abuja,

Jagne, who was represented by Mr Alozie Godfrey from the directorate, said the intervention was aimed at reducing the pains and sufferings of those in humanitarian needs.

She said the need for humanitarian services were on the increase worldwide but the challenges of delivering them were also increasing in a world that is conflict and disaster saturated.

Jagne said this, however, called for support of efforts by states and other actors to prevent crisis and build resilience of the population against natural disasters.

“The ECOWAS commission will continue its collaboration with member states and partners to promote the protection of humanitarian workers through policy implementation, sensitisation and advocacy.

“The commission will also continue to respond to the plights of the affected population through the donation of food and non-food items to reduce the sufferings of the vulnerable population.

“In this regard, the commission is handing over food worth over four million US Dollars to four member countries including Nigeria to assuage the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Jange said.

Jagne said that this year, COVID-19 had been the biggest challenge to humanitarian operations around the world.

She added that the lack of access and restrictions placed by governments around the world had resulted in communities, civil society and local NGOs being the frontline of the response.

This situation, she said, emphasised the reason for localisation of resources to enhance the first responder initiative.

She said that unfortunately, the ECOWAS region was seriously impacted by both crises and the COVID – 19 pandemic.

Jagne said the theme for this year’s celebration, #RealLifeHeroes, focused on what motivated humanitarians to continue to save and protect lives regardless of conflict, insecurity, lack of access, and risks linked to COVID-19.

“This year’s campaign affords us the opportunity to appreciate the inspiring and selfless assistance carried out by humanitarians who risk and dedicate their lives in crisis and peace times treating and preventing COVID-19.

“Administering vaccines, providing food, setting up safe spaces for women and girls, and containing locust invasions despite the pandemic.

“We all must join hands in supporting our #RealLifeHeroes this World Humanitarian Day and going forward.

“As humanitarian workers deliver aid, and medical workers help the injured and sick, often times, they are directly targeted and prevented from bringing relief and care to those in distress,” Jagne said.

Jagne said that given the recklessness exhibited in modern warfare, civilians more often than not, became targets of most conflicts.

She, however, called for the moral and legal obligation of all parties to a conflict to abide by the rules of International Humanitarian Law as provided by Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocols.

“Preventive and proactive peacetime measures aimed at ensuring better respect for International Humanitarian Law must be encouraged.

“These actions will help create the enabling environment for aid workers to work,” she said.

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UPDATE: Lagos to reopen worship centres, restaurants on August 7, 14

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Lagos state government has announced that all religious centres and restaurants are to resume operations from August 7th and 14th, 2020 respectively.

While religious centres are expected to operate at 50% capacity, the restaurant are expected to operate eat-in services.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said “While we try to ensure that life gradually returns to normal, we implore residents to continue to use face masks in public spaces and adhere strictly to all the public health safety measures and guidelines.

“At this point, I have to emphasize how important and necessary it is for us to self-regulate. Everyone of us must take up the mantle of responsibility and ensure that we are self-regulating ourselves in our interest and in the interest of our loved ones.”

 

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