Television destroyed the cinema in Guyana. But the saturation with local television, the fact that most of the movies shown are replays or pirated copies of new movies, means that Guyana is now ready for a return to the days when cinemas dominated.
When television first came to Guyana, people were excited. Cinemas in Guyana had their own experience. It was often a place where young couples could go and spend some time together. A lot of things happened when the lights went dim in the cinemas, and not all of what was happening was taking place on the screen.
Going to the cinema was the most dominant form of entertainment. Guyanese loved the cinema, it was cheap and you had a good time. But standards were often sacrificed. Very little attention was paid to providing comforts to patrons, many of whom had to line up for hours, deal with a mad scramble of tickets, then sit on seats that were not comfortable; smoking was allowed in the cinema. Yet people went for the fun.
Blackouts threatened for years to bankrupt the cinemas but they did not. Many times movies were interrupted because of a power outage and patrons were forced to leave and return for another viewing. Many of the cinemas were willing to import power generators to ensure that they would not have to abort shows, but in those days they could not get either the permission or the foreign exchange to import the sizes of generators they required and so they had for years to deal with the frustration of aborting shows because of power outages.
Yet the cinema kept going… until television came. Once television, people were not longer interested in lining up to see a movie. They were seeing it all from the comforts of their home.
Yet the cinema always offers an experience. You have a chance to get out of the home, to go somewhere, to meet other people, to listen to some nice music before the shows, eat some popcorn and snack on some things. The cinema was always therefore a different experience and right now Guyanese ready to go back to the cinema.
While you can get all the latest movies cheaply at the video stores and while you can decide which old movie you want to see and you can see reruns from the comfort of your home, there is whole generation of Guyanese who never knew anything about the cinema and they are ready to go out there and savor the experience.
In fact, even the generation of yesterday wants that experience. It is time to get out of the house and go to movies.
In that regard, the great news is that a major movie complex is going to be established in Guyana. And the movie houses will no doubt offer comfort and good service. The cinemas themselves will not be like the sweat shops that patrons had to endure in the past. The multiplexes will no doubt be air conditioned and be modern.
There will also be eating houses and shopping malls within the complex to offer a total experience similar to what is enjoyed in North America and in most of the islands of the Caribbean.
This will also be good for tourism since tourists can stay at their hotels and then do their shopping, have dinner or lunch, read a book in a mall as well as see a movie, all within the same complex.
Guyana is eagerly awaiting this experience. But one has to ask why is this facility located within the area controlled by the Georgetown municipality?
It certainly makes good business sense to have a cinema complex in the city where there is the largest population mass and highest population density.
But why would investors spend billions of dollars on this complex and locate it in an area where there is little control exercised over illegal vending. What is likely to happen is that the whole facility is going to be overrun with vendors and little action is likely to be taken by the authorities since they can hardly control illegal vending in the main commercial district much less at the proposed.
Can you imagine, an investor spending billions of dollars on shopping malls, restaurants, movie houses etc , only to find vendors invading the place.
Unless there can be a fool-proof guarantee that the area in which the complex would be located would be gated business community and that it would have a secure controlled perimeter around it to prevent illegal vending, those wishing to make the investment should seriously consider relocating the complex to another location.
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