Film distribution company Socorama Castello-Lopes was due to close 49 cinema screens nationwide yesterday (Thursday, January 31), in a cutback that will see 75 job losses, according to a statement made to Lusa news agency.
The decision will affect eight cinema complexes in commercial centres belonging to the Sonae Sierra group (which also owns Público newspaper) in Viana do Castelo, São João da Madeira, Covilhã, Leiria, Loures, Seixal, Guia and Ponta Delgada.
A spokesperson for the distributors said:” We can’t arrive at an agreement with Sonae Sierra to continue in these areas because conditions in the sector are impossible to overcome.”
A total of 55 job losses will take immediate effect and a further 20 contracts will not be renewed and the staff involved will be informed of the situation this week.
The company’s administration stated that they regret the closures and that everything will be done to maintain the remaining cinemas.
Socorama Castello-Lopes has 106 salon cinemas and in 2012 netted €12.6 million in ticket sales. But despite being the second biggest distribution company, after Zon Lusomundo Cinemas, it suffered a decrease of €1.7 million compared to 2011.
The company also recorded a drop in the number of tickets sold in 2012 which amounted to 375,000.
The warning signs had appeared in 2011 when discontented staff voted to strike because their Christmas bonus was in arrears. The action involved projectionists, ticket sellers and cinema usherettes.
In a statement sent to the Algarve Resident this week, Sonae Sierra confirmed that it had failed to reach an agreement with Castello Lopes for continuation of the contract in place and that closure of the cinema halls at the various shopping centres owned by the group would be happening soon.
Sonae Sierra stated: “Over several years of contract, Sonae Sierra supported Castello Lopes in order to make the cinema operations viable. However and despite our support, Castello Lopes has allowed a huge debt to accumulate and has not presented the necessary conditions to make their operations viable.”
Sonae Sierra confirmed it was now looking at “different options” for the vacated spaces and hoped they would be reopening in the short-term. However, the group has not confirmed whether these options related to other film distribution companies taking over the spaces in question.
The Algarve Resident has learnt that no movie premieres were due to be screened at Algarve Shopping in Guia on January 31 (see page 42 for other cinema screens in the Algarve).
Also read ‘Portimão cinema not closed for good’ in the January 11, 2013 edition of the Algarve Resident).