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Palace Amusement forced to close its remaining cinemas amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Movie company Palace Amusement has decided to close all its cinemas as a result of the surge in COVID-19 cases across the island.

Palace Amusement, which is Jamaica’s lone cinema operator, says it took the decision to close its remaining cinemas, as good corporate citizens and given the latest Government restrictions placed on public gatherings.

This move is expected to weigh down heavily on the company’s financials, where losses in 2020 totally wiped out the gains made in 2019 when Palace Amusement made a net profit of $70.36 million.

In its 2020 audited financial statements, Palace Amusement incurred losses of $50.54 million in the last quarter of 2020, relative to a net profit of $31.17 million recorded for the same quarter in 2019. In spite of the expected heavy losses from the move, Palace Amusement has advised the Jamaica Stock Exchange, where its shares are traded, of its decision to close CARIB 5, New Kingston Drive-in and Sunshine Palace.

Pointing out that it has been given permission to operate the drive-in after 6:00 pm, Palace Amusement highlighted the fact that “with the longer days the start time of the movies had to be pushed back and with the 8:00 pm curfew we cannot operate.”

ALL OTHER CINEMAS REMAIN CLOSED

As previously advised, Palace Cineplex and Palace Multiplex remain closed. Palace Amusement suffered heavy losses of $99.61 million during its 2020 financial year, which ended on June 30, 2020.

The losses during the last quarter can be explained by the total shutdown of its cinemas across Jamaica in compliance with the Government’s COVID-19 safety protocols, which banned mass gathering at entertainment spots, such as cinemas. The last quarter, April to June, is regarded as the height of the coronavirus pandemic in Jamaica, when most of the island was under restrictions.

Total comprehensive losses for the year amounted to $102.89 million compared to an income of $67.49 million for the corresponding period in 2019. Consequently, net loss attributable to shareholders for the year amounted to $99.84 million, versus an attributable profit of $82.43 million documented for 2019.

Revenue for the year was down 17 per cent to $919.84 million compared with the $1.11 billion recorded for the corresponding period in 2019. The total revenue for the last quarter decreased by a whopping 94 per cent to $20.67 million relative to the $338 million recorded for the same period in 2019.