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Movie night at home elbowing cinemas out of business – Chronicle

The Chronicle

 Tafadzwa Muronzwa
THE global Covid-19 pandemic affected screen viewing as we know it. Movie theatres and production studios temporarily closed while everyone was cocooned in their homes waiting for the tide to go down.

Netflix was not having that – the subscription-based video company doubled on its business and targeted the locked down movie lovers who were starved of Box Office cinema movies.

Being a pioneer of movie streaming, Netflix was at an advantage — it had already dealt with the bruises and bumps that come with teething. Seeing that Netflix was racking in millions in US dollars, competitors, Disney-Plus, HBOMAX and others, copied and pasted the Netflix model by launching their own streaming services while majority people were still under lockdown.

Most production houses were not too sure about the Netflix business model, whether it would work or not and were happy making money at the Box Office Cinemas before lockdowns. They noticed the cash it was bringing in and taking up all the market share and they couldn’t fold their hands and watch.

Film analysts and critics had already warned that the streaming trend could have a negative impact on cinemas.

Most people would agree with me that the Covid-19 pandemic sped up the pace as isolating saw more people signing up to streaming services. A movie at home is now more ideal than a public cinema.

The number of movies in 2020 dropped as studios moved release dates into 2021-2023, patiently waiting for cinemas to reopen so that they can make most of their money through box office releases. A good example is the new James Bond movie, No Time To Die. It was originally due to hit the cinemas in April 2020, but was only released yesterday.

Movie theatres have clearly been hit the hardest, and several major chains such as Cinemax, which has most of its branches in Mexico and a great presence in the USA, have been forced to close down permanently. AMC, which has the largest movie theatre chain in America, is reportedly on the brink of filing for bankruptcy.

To survive the Covid-19 onslaught, some smaller chains and independent theatres have allowed small groups of people to book private screening.

Universal Pictures’ sister company Peacock gambled digitally and released the blockbuster cartoon Trolls World Tour. The movie was released exclusively to digital rental instead of showing in cinemas and it managed to earn over US$100 million in its first three weeks.

This led Universal to announce that in future it will release its movies simultaneously in theatres and on digital rental. This has led to tension between Universal Pictures and movie cinema chains, with some threatening not to play Universal films in their theatres if this comes to be. This is what happens when you are caught flat-footed with the wave of change.

This change reflects that viewers now prefer watching from home with their loved ones and shunning the traditional cinemas. The lockdowns have clearly seen the majority of viewers picking up the habit of popping popcorn at home and dimming the lights in their sittings to watch a movie instead of queuing to go watch a movie at a movie house.

You might be asking; how do these streaming services make money? Well, it’s through monthly subscriptions, for example Netflix has 209 million paid members worldwide and their lowest package is $8,99 so they gross around US$1,8 billion minimum, yes per month.

Speaking of formulas, DEOD which is under TelOne, is available online at a cost of US$3 per month (the last time I checked). But honestly, they haven’t done much to market and promote this streaming service which has great potential since it has a section of Zimbabwean productions including kids cartoons. If bundled well with their data packages, it would be Zimbabwe’s Netflix in the making.

Finally, there are traditional satellite services such as DSTV, these guys are literally hanging by the tread if you ask me. If two events happen simultaneously, they are going to be in huge trouble. If Netflix introduces live TV — that is News, Sports and Talk Shows — and if the cost of unlimited data is reduced and made affordable to low-income earners, satellite TV will go out of business.

Who knows? Anything is possible. I mean Mr Strive Masiyiwa was the first African to be on the Netflix board of directors and they want to expand into other continents, Asia and yes, Africa.

Mr Masiyiwa was once in the satellite television business, so he knows a thing or two on how Netflix can undo satellite TV.

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Abusive Harare teacher pleads guilty, blames toothache – NewsDay


A HARARE school teacher who last week caused a social media stir after he was filmed brutally bashing a Lower Sixth student pleaded guilty to assault charges when he appeared in court on Saturday.

Talent Chingwaru, a teacher at Harare Einstein Tuition Centre, was represented by Advocate Joshua Chirambwe instructed by Mukudzei Moyo.

Chingwaru told Harare magistrate Judith Taruvinga that although he pleaded guilty to the charges, he had committed the offence while he was overwhelmed by anger due to the student’s misbehaviour.

He said when he brutally beat up the student, he was suffering from a toothache, which was stressing him and as a result, he failed to control his anger.

Taruvinga postponed the matter for sentencing to today as there was need for the complainant’s medical affidavit to be availed to the State.

Allegations are that on October 14, Chingwaru assaulted an 18-year-old student, who later made a report at Harare Central Police Station.

State papers allege that the Lower Sixth student was found in an “O” Level classroom watching movies during lesson time and he ordered him to go back to his class.

Instead, the student allegedly went to a biology classroom where he coincidentally met the same teacher. A harsh exchange of words ensued, resulting in the teacher assaulting the learner.

  •  Follow Desmond on Twitter @DChingarande1

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Plans to revive Cape film industry – IOL

WESGRO has a plan to resuscitate the floundering film industry by securing up to R17.8 billion-worth of productions and turning the Western Cape into a film powerhouse over the next five years.

The lofty target, set out in the investment and promotions latest report, is expected to create up to 18 472 jobs by the 2024/25 financial year.

The report noted that the Covid-19 pandemic struck a severe blow to the industry with it falling severely short of the past financial year’s R2.8bn target, and only managing to rake in R600 million due to a tough economy.

However, recently the City of Cape Town’s Film Permit Office said 50 productions, which included local TV series, four international feature films and commercials were being made in the Cape Town. The office had issued 671 permits in the past three months, almost double the 375 permits issued over the same period the previous year.

The sector is also pinning its hopes on South Africa having been moved off the UK’s red list, which would be a major boost for business, as the region accounts for a quarter of the province’s summer-season international advert shoots.

Wesgro’s 2020/21 annual report indicated that the unit, tasked with promoting the Cape Town and the Western Cape as a prime film location, had during the first months of the pandemic only managed to secure seven films, shows and adverts to the value of R612m. These projects had create a total 413 full-time jobs.

The figures were a drastic drop from the R2.1bn and 2 147 jobs that were netted in the previous financial year.

Head of the unit Monica Rorvik said while the pandemic brought challenges to the sectors, parts of the industry had managed to adapt quicker.

“During early lockdown, sectors such as animation, post (production) and gaming were able to pivot and grow as most production companies were able to work from home. Many companies even expanded their employee base over the past year,” she said.

“Location shooting is more seasonal, and although we lost most of last season’s foreign projects, locals were still shooting and some work was even done with foreign directors and producers being “Zoomed” onto location shoots as soon as shooting protocols and mandates allowed locals to shoot again,“ Rorvik said.

“When the rest of the world started opening up to flights, unfortunately South Africa was at a competitive disadvantage, and we lost some shine as a destination until our vaccines became available to the industry.

“The great news is that the UK travel restrictions have dropped the Red List ban on South African travellers and we expect to see more of our commercials, and catalogues, industry return. The UK is where 25% of our summer-season foreign commercials are sourced.”

Rorvik said shows like Netflix’s Blood and Water and Oscar-winning documentary My Octopus Teacher were great drivers of tourism for the province.

“The pilot with Netflix on Film Tourism was fascinating and it showed how shows like Blood and Water help drive cultural tourism. My Octopus Teacher also had such a big impact for adventure and conservation interest in coming here and experiencing our African sea forest,” she said.

“And it’s not just Netflix; we have other streamers shooting here all the time, and when we do get filmmakers here, our destination marketing team is able to offer them packages to go (and experience) other tourism offerings.”

Animation is growing in the province and creating jobs. A recently announced partnership between Cape Town-based animation studio Triggerfish and a German-funded Employment for Skills and Development (E4D) project was formed to nurture young talent. The studio is well known for movies such as Khumba and Adventures in Zambezia.

Film producer and Triggerfish’s chief executive Stuart Forrest said: “The mandate (for the project) was to stimulate and improve the resources available on the continent for animation. That came out of the fact that as a company we are doing most of our work internationally. We have TV series being produced in France, Ireland, Egypt, Uganda and Zimbabwe.”

“There is a huge disconnect given the youth unemployment problem, because our industry is still so small, but (the country) also has an incredibly resourceful and talented workforce,” Forrest said.

He said when the pandemic hit staff worked from home and the sector hired people from anywhere in the world. “The downside to that is training stopped becoming a priority. If we can train young people in Africa, it will raise the talent we have in South Africa.”

Chairperson of the Garden Route Film Commission Patrick Walton said the film industry was growing in the region and aimed to showcase itself as a prime film destination.

Earlier this year the district municipality adopted a film policy framework to help promote the area and increase investments for film. Shows like Temptation Island, Love Island, The Bachelorette and Black Sails shot there.

“A lot of work has gone into building the commission and engaging with the different municipalities to work towards a similar goal,” he said.

Rorvik said the draft film policy, which is open for public comment until October 31, seeks to provide funding mechanisms to help upcoming film-makers, which would grow the industry.

She also added flights to the province were vital in making it easier for film-makers to choose the province.

“It is incredible that film-makers from North America have many more flights to choose directly to Cape Town in season, and our connectivity to Europe and Asia has increased,” she added.

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Teacher nabbed for brutal student assault – NewsDay


A PRIVATE college teacher in Harare was yesterday arrested after a video of him brutally assaulting an 18-year-old student went viral.

Police confirmed the arrest of the Harare Einstein Tuition Centre Maths teacher, Michael Freeman Chingwaru, who was caught on camera in a fit of rage assaulting a hapless student using fists, a belt and open palms.

The teacher was widely condemned for his behaviour shown in the over one-minute-long video, where he was attacking the student while his peers were pleading with him to stop the attack.

In the video, the student did not fight back, but could only complain that Chingwaru was hurting him while he stood in a corner, defying orders for him to sit.

“The ZRP confirms the arrest of Michael Freeman Chingwaru (39), a Maths teacher at Harare Einstein Tuition centre for assaulting a student (18) at the same institution,” police national spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said.

“The Lower Sixth student was found in the ordinary level class watching some movies during lesson time and ordered to go to his class. Instead, he went to a Biology classroom and coincidentally met the same teacher, where a harsh exchange of words occurred, resulting in the teacher assaulting the complainant.”

Nyathi said school authorities should ensure that peace prevails in learning institutions at all times.

Corporal punishment is outlawed in Zimbabwe and teachers are forbidden from physically attacking students as punishment for any wrong doing.

There was speculation as to the reason why Chingwaru assaulted the student, with some claiming he had found the student in an uncompromising position with a female student, believed to be his relative.

This was after Chingwaru posted a picture of a boy, with a girl in a compromising position, claiming that was the reason for the attack on the pupil.

Another video of Chingwaru has emerged with him violently confronting a Zesa Holdings employee at the school before he was restrained.

It could not be immediately established when the video was taken, but he exhibited the same violent conduct and anger as shown in his attack on the teenage student at the school.

School authorities could not immediately comment on the incident, with the Primary and Secondary Education ministry saying investigations on the matter were underway. He is expected to appear in court soon.

Follow Moses on Twitter @mmatenga

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