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VOX Cinemas research predicts big-screen bounce-back

VOX Cinemas, the dedicated cinema arm of Majid Al Futtaim, the leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa and Asia has revealed findings of a new survey which demonstrate that the cinema industry in the MENA region will bounce back as an overwhelming 98% of respondents intend to return to movie theatres soon after reopening.

The research was conducted in waves between April to May 2020 by Majid Al Futtaim’s Happiness Lab — its proprietary market research online community in the UAE — and surveyed 1,240 respondents during the temporary closures of cinema, leisure and entertainment experiences. The research findings explored consumer sentiment as well as the health and safety measures that consumers would expect to see when returning to the cinema.

After dining out at a restaurant or café, going to the cinema was the second-most missed activity during restrictions and 75% of respondents stated they are eager to resume their cinema-going habit within just four weeks of reopening.

When asked to identify the top safety measures that would make them feel most comfortable about returning to the cinema, physical distancing in queues was deemed the most important by 86% of respondents, with 81% citing a preference for advance contactless booking of tickets and F&B online to avoid queuing altogether. Other factors encouraging the movie-going population to return include staff wearing masks and gloves (81%) and physical distancing between seats (73%).

Commenting on the research, Cameron Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer of Majid Al Futtaim Cinemas and Majid Al Futtaim Leisure & Entertainment said, “We remain fundamentally confident about the future and resilience of the cinema industry. This research demonstrates that the industry will bounce back and the culture of cinema-going will resume. We have proactively reimagined the guest experience at all of the Majid Al Futtaim entertainment experiences, including VOX Cinemas, Ski Dubai and Ski Egypt, Magic Planet and Dreamscape, and we are delighted that the measures put in place are all aligned with the feedback that was evidenced in these surveys.”

Mr Mitchell added “Internationally, cinemas have reopened across Europe and Asia, as well as in a number of American states, and attendance is increasing week on week. The theatrical box office in the cinema-going nation of South Korea, for example, has recently showed a significant sign of recovery, with weekend ticket sales reaching 402,000, a week-on-week gain of 112%. These figures bode well for the future of cinema and we are confident that ticket sales in other markets will follow a similar trend.”

Jocelyn Davies, Head of Customer Experience and Insights at Majid Al Futtaim, Leisure, Entertainment and Cinemas added, “Listening to our guests is a core value at Majid Al Futtaim, and during our period of closure, it was essential to understand customer sentiment to enable us to develop new concepts and evolve the entire cinema experience. We are delighted that the new measures included have reassured our guests, with over 93% of guests who have returned since reopening being satisfied/extremely satisfied with the new protective measures that we have in place.

In addition to its already stringent sanitisation standards, VOX Cinemas has introduced extensive precautionary measures including disinfecting auditoriums using fogging machines and sanitising surfaces after every guest interaction. It is also now mandatory for employees to wear masks and gloves, and all team members have their temperatures checked on arrival for shifts.

Safe distancing ambassadors have been introduced and instructional signage has been installed to guide guests on best physical distancing practices. The capacity in auditoriums has been reduced and seats in front of, behind and next to a guest’s selection will be left vacant to maintain physical distancing. The occupancy has also been decreased in other public areas such as restrooms and elevators.

Guests can enjoy a queue less cinema experience by advance booking their tickets and F&B options online as well as a contactless collection service. To further minimize physical contact and exposure, VOX Cinemas offers contactless payment options and guests can self-scan their tickets before entering the auditorium.

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