South-west cinemas say their audiences are as strong as ever despite Hollywood film companies turning to streaming services to release movies.
Warrnambool's Capitol Cinema manager Greg Gent said he wasn't worried about the future of the cinema industry after Warner Bros. announced a partnership with United States' HBO Max last month to release films via the streaming service on the same day as cinemas.
"The Warner Bros. announcement won't effect us too much as it's American based," Mr Gent said. "I suppose if people really want to see the films online they'll find a way to do it.
"But I believe a lot of film companies are dedicated to releasing their films through cinemas."
The announcement from Warner Bros. caused some metropolitan cinemas to worry that the film industry would switch to streaming services and are lobbying the Federal Government to legislate a minimum theatrical release window to protect local cinemas as similarly done in France and Turkey in recent times.
Mr Gent said in the past few years, despite the rise of streaming services like Netflix, the cinema's attendance numbers remained strong.
"Our last few years have been excellent, we haven't seen that much difference in our crowd sizes from when streaming services gained momentum," he said.
Cinema has a point of difference, it's a night out for people to meet their friends and have an experience.Greg Gent
"There is a social side of going to the movies and that's something you can't get at home."
Port Fairy Film Society president David Digby said the club closed in February amid the coronavirus pandemic but despite the closure, he believes the social aspect of the movies makes for an unbeatable experience.
"The movies we screen for our society once a month are not necessarily the mainstream Hollywood blockbusters so Netflix hasn't been an issue," Mr Digby said.
"When our community groups hold fundraisers, they tend to choose new releases and during our summer movie program we screen around 30 popular older movies through January.
"The last three years have been very good for us. The Reardon Theatre can hold 230 people and on a cold winter's night we get about 80 people.
"We have a core following who come to our screenings for the social element and we generate a conversation around films. That's not something you typically do at home."
Despite the coronavirus pandemic closing cinemas across the country due to gathering limits and halting Hollywood productions, Mr Gent said the response to Capitol Cinema's re-opening remains strong.
"It's been a weird summer, there's not as many people in town as opposed to previous years and with our seating situation it's hard to fit everyone in," he said. "It's been tough but we're also turning a lot of people away.
"We're allowed 75 per cent of our capacity and we have well less of that because of seating restrictions but it's certainly been busy.
"People keep coming back time and time again."
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