A major cinema chain in regional Australia has collapsed into voluntary administration after a horror 12 months where not even blockbuster movies Barbie and Oppenheimer could save it.
Majestic Cinemas operates nine cinemas in regional NSW and Queensland. Locations include Nambour, Port Macquarie, Inverell, Nambucca, Wynnum, Kempsey, Singleton, Sawtell and Nelson Bay.
The business collapsed into voluntary administration this week with the impacts of Covid-19, cost-of-living pressures, natural disasters such as floods and fires, and the Hollywood writers strike being blamed.
A note on its website said voluntary administrators were effective from January 31 this year as the business looks to be restructured to make it viable.
At this stage, all Majestic Cinemas remain open and are selling tickets to customers.
Majestic Cinemas founder and CEO Kieren Dell told news.com.au he was hopeful a restructure could help the business survive.
“We have had four years of pressure on the cinema industry from bushfires to Covid, to the writers strikes,” he said.
“No movies were made during Covid, that proved difficult for cinemas, and just as we were getting back on our feet the Hollywood actors decided to go on strike and that again stopped movie production.”
Mr Dell said they have had only 70 per cent of movie releases over the last couple of years and about 70 per cent of normal revenue.
“That’s what has caused the problems,” he said. “It is about the consistency of movies. Barbie and Oppenheimer were great but we didn’t have much after that in the second half of the year.”
Mr Dell started the business 21 years ago after buying the Nambucca Heads cinema despite having no experience in the industry.
“I learnt from scratch and I believe it was, and it is, viable,” he said.
Mr Dell said he expected another six to 12 tough months ahead for the cinema industry because of the impacts of the writers strikes but believes the business will survive.
“For us this process is about restructure, reducing the debt level overhang and recalibrating our rent which was set at pre Covid levels,” he said.
“Cinema has survived, TV, VHS, DVD and streaming and it continues to adapt.
“It is the most popular cultural experience people have and in regional towns it is a social entertainment hub.”