Cinema media owners respond to 'unprecedented' shutdown

Cinemas: closed for business
Cinemas: closed for business

DCM and Pearl & Dean say they want to be flexible to help advertisers.

Digital Cinema Media has said that it will be "temporarily pausing its advertising services until further notice" following news that cinema chains are closing their sites across the UK.

It comes as Odeon, Vue and Cineworld announced that they were closing their doors until further notice. The move follows advice from prime minister Boris Johnson that people should avoid venues such as pubs, bars and theatres.

Karen Stacey, DCM's chief executive, told Campaign that it was fully supporting its advertiser clients. She said: "Across the time period affected, we are providing advertisers with flexible opportunities, including the option of a full refund or to defer their budget to when cinemas reopen, with no penalties incurred. Even during these unprecedented times, we are committed to delivering for our customers and will go to every endeavour to do so."

Meanwhile, Pearl & Dean chief executive Kathryn Jacob told Campaign that it was offering credit notes to advertisers that have booked campaigns and is dealing with brands on a case-by-case basis.

Stacey highlighted DCM’s "Always looking forward" proposition, which she said signified how "we are passionate about working collectively as an industry to step forward together through these challenging times".

DCM has already introduced remote working protocols and plans to keep them in place until 30 March or until further government guidance, while Pearl & Dean said that "from today, the majority of Pearl & Dean staff will be working remotely, until further notice".

Stacey added: "We very much hope that this is a short-term measure and will continue to service the industry at this time, turning our attention to virtual ways we can bring each other together to scope out business plans for the future, while also focusing on developing systems and tools to ensure we are fully operational and up to speed as soon as we can get back to business as usual."

It was a sentiment shared by Jacob, who said: "We are, of course, saddened by what’s happening across the globe and the impact it is having on all our lives and businesses. We feel particularly acutely for our smaller owner-run independent cinemas. However, we believe that the strength of the magic of cinema will endure and the industry will bounce back from these difficult times and find new ways to bring people together in the meantime."

The UK cinema advertising market is worth about £200m a year, according to Group M.

Odeon, which has more than 120 cinemas across the UK and Ireland, announced its intention to close on Twitter this morning and has since issued a statement on its website's home page. It said that following government guidelines, the group has closed "until further notice", noting that anyone who has pre-booked tickets online will be refunded automatically.

Tim Richards, chief executive of Vue, which has 91 cinemas in the UK and Ireland, issued a statement that said, in line with government advice, it "will be temporarily closing" all cinemas until further notice.

Cineworld has 100 screens in the UK and also runs 24 Picturehouse sites. Its chief executive issued a similar statement, saying that it had made "the difficult decision to close our cinemas in UK and Ireland until further notice".

BFI South Bank in London has also closed its doors.

Yesterday, Universal Pictures said that it would make films due for theatrical release available on other platforms and has already started making some available as pay-on-demand streams. It will also make films currently on release available.

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