Joint effort required to revive comatose cinema culture


GOING to the cinema used to be a popular pastime among young people, but today this is now one of the least appreciated activities. Some local movie distributors have long closed cinemas following viability challenges related to the economic decline over the past 10 years.


A 200-seater auditorium can have only 10 people watching a film. Movie enthusiasts are now turning to the internet and the arrival of plasma screens has brought the “movie-feel” home, many of which now have home theatre amplification systems and subwoofers.


Cinemas are important in modern life. Watching a movie at home or on a laptop can never be equated to a movie theatre experience. Cinemas provide a source of livelihood and contribute to the growth of culture and the creative industry. Going to the movies must be revived as a source of entertainment and relaxation.

Some movies help spread knowledge, remind people about their past and present and others send meaningful messages about the world, the environment or humanity.

Because movies disseminate knowledge and entertainment, there is need to revive cinemas through attracting students and low-income earners to the cinemas. Economic price discrimination lures certain segments of society to the cinemas. This means availing cheap tickets for the youths, students and senior citizens.

Cinemas may issue discounted tickets to clubs or societies interested in movies. For example, schools, colleges, universities and other communities usually comprising of well-structured clubs and societies. The cinemas and clubs cut deals where the movie house screens a film at a discounted rate.

The cinema houses can also employ price discrimination in seating arrangement. Seats closer to the screen cost less, the ones furthest from the screen cost more. Large theatre houses such as Rainbow cinemas, also own small theatres that can show “second run” of popular films at reduced ticket prices. These smaller cinemas such as Elite 400 can be a hit with students seeking a break from academic fatigue.

Movie house chains may issue out discounted passes in exchange for tickets to regular movie showings. Usually, some passes provide substantial discounts from the price of regular admissions, especially if they carry restrictions.

Common restrictions include a waiting period after a movie’s release before the pass can be exchanged for a ticket.

Cinemas may sell semester- movie passes for unlimited entrance to regular showings to universities and college entertainment clubs. For example, Rainbow cinemas may sell unlimited passes for the Rainbow cinema Bulawayo Centre, valid for one person (in a club or society) for the whole school term or semester at the price of $10.

Discounted passes attract first-time attendees and financially crippled members of society. Furthermore, it re-introduces going to the movies culture among those who might have forgotten about it.

Local cinemas should embrace local productions in movies they showcase. The launch of the movie Qiniso at Rainbow Theatre (Bulawayo Centre) on February 7, 2015 testifies how people crave for local movies at cinemas. It recorded a bumper crowd at its premier. To add glamour and excitement, the production cast may appear during premieres. This justifies the call for cinemas to work closely with other players in the local entertainment industry. There should be continuous engagements among cinemas, film producers, and film distributors and so on.

Partnerships, collaborations, communication, networking and consultation forms the ingredients needed in the creative industry.

Win-win arrangements should be put in place to have lots of local productions playing in cinemas. Most of the tickets revenue may go to the film production house and the cinema may get their monies from the pop corn and candy business. Selling pop corn, soft drinks, hot dogs, ice cream, pizza slices and hamburgers may pay cinema overhead expenses and bring in more revenue than ticket sales.

Movie theatres may provide live broadcast of an opera, musical concert, and awards ceremonies among other exciting events. For example, it can broadcast live annual events such as Miss Zimbabwe, Nama Awards, Harare International Carnival and Police Commissioner’s Funfair and so on. Mutually, beneficial deals among the event organiser, cinema and advertisers may make digital live broadcasts a cash cow.

Cinema supplementary income may also come from commercial advertising and movie trailers. For example, a fashion shop may want to advertise its products before the movie shows in the cinema. Cinemas may also run websites and social network fan groups, where they interact with movie goers and place links to teasers. Cinemas would then use their popular online platforms to offer advertisement air time, thereby earning revenue. Teasers are used to get patrons excited about a movie coming out about six to 12 months away. They are 0-30 seconds-long film abridgements.

Dividing time into busy, prime and off-peak movie screening hours may be used in market segmentation. Generally, youths and students may get lured by cheap tickets for blockbuster movies. Finding the slowest days in the movie business and allocate it to the first time movie goers and students ensures steady income for the cinema. The small spenders will eventually graduate into big spenders, therefore, ensuring a sustainable, reliable and profitable cinema business.

The slowing down of business at theatre houses is a deplorable situation. To ardent movie goers, DVD players, home theater amplification systems and subwoofers, large LCD or plasma screens and viewing movies online will never supplant the movie theater experience.

Cinemas provide for the mixing and mingling of students from all classes and majors, thereby, building human relations and understanding. Even in developed countries such as the United States of America, people flock to theatres. This is despite unlimited internet access and reliable, cheap electricity.

●Crispen Rateiwa is the chairperson of College Youth Art Club. He harbours interests in publishing creative art products at both local and international level. He is a publishing studies student at National University of Science and Technology. He can be contacted at


  1. Advertise. In the past when we were young there used to be adverts all over about upcoming attractions at movie houses. These days you dont see any adverts at all. Use bill boards etc. For once I thought all the movie houses have closed coz I never hear about them no more.

  2. Social media platforms connect businesses and clients.It’s unfortunate that many cinema houses do not have facebook pages and websites to engage movie goers.Social media advertising is the cheapest but they are much uninterested.Cinema houses have the infrastructure to support the arts and cultural industry, and the resistant to adapt to new technologies may be due to old folks running them.

  3. my Aunty Brianna just got a great Lexus IS F Sedan just by some parttime working online with a macbook…

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