Wellington Scoop

Operator of Embassy Theatre planning to cut staff

Event Cinemas New Zealand, who operate the Embassy Theatre in Wellington, is planning to reduce its staff. Though the city’s independent cinemas have now reopened, Event has chosen not to reopen the Embassy, blaming the non-availability of major new films from international distributors.

News from Event Cinemas
Following the period of closure, major changes to the future film line up, the impact of coronavirus and the public health response, Event Cinemas New Zealand will undertake a restructure, entering into a consultation process with staff and the unions to reduce its workforce, in line with the current and future business requirements.

The restructure follows a number of other initiatives that have been made right across the Event Hospitality & Entertainment group, owners of Event Cinemas New Zealand, to minimise the impact on people across the group.

Carmen Switzer, General Manager, Event Cinemas New Zealand said: “The efforts to contain the spread of Coronavirus globally has impacted the planned release of new films and the measures put in place under Level 2 restrict the number of customers able to access cinemas.

“The reality is in order to preserve as many jobs as we can in the long term and ensure we remain in a good position to get through this crisis we have made the difficult – but essential – decision to work with our teams to reduce our workforce. This will mean starting the process of redundancies and entering a consultation period with staff.

“Unfortunately, like many other businesses, we are not exempt from the impact of this pandemic. We are committed to working openly and honestly with our people during this time, supporting them in the best way we can.”

The DomPost reports that a significant problem is a lack of films to show.

“The re-opening of Event Cinemas NZ is dependent on both the global film releases scheduled by the major Hollywood studios and Alert Level restrictions and how they apply to cinemas,” said Carmen Switzer.

“For multiplex cinemas it will not be viable to fully re-open until the next major film dated for release which is Tenet, July 16. In the meantime we are looking at how we may re-open on a limited basis with alternative and retrospective film content before mid-July.

“We have invested in e-commerce to ensure we can meet social distancing requirements and developed sanitation plans that are being tested with customers and have been well-received. We will make further announcements about a formal re-opening date soon. We know our customers cannot wait to visit us and we look forward to welcoming audiences back to their local cinema.”

Union spokesman John Crocker said negotiations were under way to determine whether the chain’s staff would have hours cut, or be offered voluntary redundancy as an option. “A lot of businesses have struggled with restrictions around how they operate but cinemas are in a really difficult position because they don’t have any product.”

He said it was possible that the extended wage subsidy could help them get through to the point where films could start showing again.