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Cinemas fight to keep their businesses afloat

By ANNIE NJANJA February 12th, 2014 1 min read

The exit of cinema companies from the local market and low turnout in theatres is a show of an industry needing to re-think its strategies.

Piracy and harsh economic times are partly to blame for the fading of the once thriving film industry.

James Muthengi, a film director has blamed the government for focusing only on cracking down pirated local movies that are not even produced en masse due to the high production costs while giving no attention to pirated foreign movies. 

“Unless the government closes down illegal DVD shops, the movie industry will never pick up,” he said.

In order to remain in business, cinema companies have come up with survival tactics to deal with the harsh economic times and low turnout especially during the week days.


20th Century Cinema on Mama Ngina Street last year introduced the first digital IMAX theatre system in East Africa.

The IMAX Corporation through its partners Blue Sky Entertainment launched the theatre last March, breathing new life into an already fading hall.

Other companies such as Fox Theatres’ survival tactics include adoption of the 3D screens. 

Fox has maintained three branches in Nairobi, including two 3D screens. Its Sarit Centre branch continues to attract a large number of cinemagoers when screening blockbusters.

IMAX have also resorted to giving discounts that goes for as low as Sh400 during off-peak to appeal to movie lovers, while blockbuster tickets cost Sh800 which is half the prior price.

They have also turned to advertising on the screens to make extra cash.

They also rent out halls for company events and parties or for entertainment.

The cinema company also boasts of an additional small room, the Arfa Lounge Bar that can be used for small group meetings.