A slight diversion from the hustle and bustle of the movie business as I discovered this remarkable story. The last cinema in Guyana has closed, for the moment there are no screens.
The end of cinemas in Guyana has been blamed partly on DVD’s and partly on television. There is no government control or penalties for DVD piracy and even renting legit DVD’s was a lot cheaper than a trip to the flea-pit. Which some cinemas literally were! Most cinemas were single screens and weren’t developed to create a good customer experience. Distributor fees and fees paid to the censor and government, meant little was left for upkeep. There was also no control over TV stations showing movies as soon as they were released, so the cinemas were competing with TV for the same audiences.
Until the ‘90’s, a night out at the movies was big in Guyana and 90% of the cinema’s were owned by one man, Muntaz Alli, who also had sole rights to import films into the country – mostly Hollywood and Bollywood fare. All films shown in Guyana came through his company and were shown, pretty much, at his cinemas. Mr. Alli was a member of the PNC, the People’s National Congress, and the change of government in the ‘90’s is said to have had great influence on the rapid decline of his cinema business.
The Guyanese people loved the cinema experience and it’s generally thought that if a few modern multiplexes sprung-up across the country they would do very well indeed.
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