Malaysian cinema chains say delay of ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ a setback to Covid-19 post-pandemic recovery

·3-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

PETALING JAYA, July 14 — For cinemas just beginning to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, the postponement of Thor: Love and Thunder has been an unexpected setback.

GSC chief executive officer Koh Mei Lee said having local and international content was paramount for local cinemas to stay sustainable.

“When we can’t screen these movies, fans will inevitably seek out different channels to watch them on, whether legal or illegal - and that will be a major loss in revenue for us,” Koh told Malay Mail.

“Cinemas are also not a level playing field as other entertainment forms; for instance, we still have to pay a 25 per cent entertainment tax.that streaming platforms are not subjected to.

“The window period (for cinema viewing) has also been shortened - it used to be at least 90 days, but now it’s 45 days or less before a film goes from cinemas to other platforms.” Statistics from the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) show just how sharp the decline in revenue has been for local cinemas.

While Malaysian cinemas saw 77.7 million admissions to the tune of RM1.08 billion in 2019, these numbers dropped to just 3.75 million admissions with RM22 million in revenue in 2021.

TGV Cinemas executive director and chief executive officer Tan Lay Han pointed out that malls would also suffer losses if cinemas could not draw in an audience.

“The cinema industry is a key player in the larger economy as well, so there’s a multiplier effect going on,” Tan said to Malay Mail.

“We definitely hope that future movies won’t go through this (uncertainty) as well.” Both Koh and Tan said cinemas have begun the process of refunding fans who had purchased tickets for the film.

Yesterday (July 13), both GSC and TGV Cinemas announced that Thor: Love and Thunder’s release in Malaysia has been postponed indefinitely.

Statistics from Finas show that the local cinema industry has taken quite the hit over the past two years. —  Screenshot via Finas’ website.
Statistics from Finas show that the local cinema industry has taken quite the hit over the past two years. — Screenshot via Finas’ website.

Statistics from Finas show that the local cinema industry has taken quite the hit over the past two years. — Screenshot via Finas’ website.

Prior to this, the film had its initial release date of July 7 postponed to July 21.

The film is currently playing in other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and Singapore.

GSC and TGV Cinemas say they have received no explanation for the film’s postponement so far.

The film’s distributor, Disney Malaysia, has not made an official announcement on the delay either.

This has not stopped fans from speculating about possible reasons on social media, ranging from assumptions of censorship, to more fringe conspiratorial theories about Disney not wanting to compete with local hit Mat Kilau.

On the topic of censorship, fans point to a brief scene which features the bare bottom of the titular Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth), as well as allusions that several other characters are part of the LGBTQ community.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film has also yet to receive a release date in China, with cinema insiders claiming that movie will likely not receive censorship approval.

TGV Cinemas and GSC have expressed their own disappointment at the
TGV Cinemas and GSC have expressed their own disappointment at the

TGV Cinemas and GSC have expressed their own disappointment at the "indefinite postponement” through their social media channels. — Screenshots via Twitter/ GSC Cinemas, TGV Cinemas

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