Silverbird Cinemas is Still the Most Preferred Movie Viewing Centre in Accra……….. Alternative Cinemas Face Challenges with Patronage.

In the wake of the cry for more Cinemas by stakeholders of the Ghanaian film industry, as way of aiding film makers derive greater revenue from film showings, some venues have emerged to help solve this problem. But, despite calls for better revenue sharing agreements from Ghanaian filmmakers with Ghana’s biggest Cinema brand ‘Silverbird Cinemas’, it has remained the most preferred venue for movie showings in Accra. Recent surveys of some movie premieres in Accra and interaction with attendants affirm the latter.

With the emergence of other Cinemas around Accra, one would expect a reduction in the patronization of the Silverbird Cinemas but recent surveys prove otherwise. This year, after attending the premieres of some of the most successful and well attended movies like ‘Away Bus’ by Kofi Asamoah, ‘Sin City’ by Yvonne Nelson, ‘Ghetto Hero’, ‘Sugar’ by KiDi, one couldn’t help but notice the variety in age group among the attendants. Brief random interaction with some of the guests revealed that most of them felt the Silverbird Cinemas was located at a secure area. Some of them also appreciated the availability of other facilities like shops, restaurants and so one, and this gave them other interesting places or things to do before or after watching the movie. They felt this was extra value for coming to the Silverbird Cinemas. Another important point that was made by some of the patrons was access to transportation. The location  of the Silverbird Cinemas at the Accra Mall is strategically situated at a point where one can easily board a vehicle to major areas like Lapaz, Madina, East Legon, Circle, Spintex and even Tema. With so much activities going on around the Accra Mall, commercial transport is abundant even into the late hours of the night.

Other film showing centers haven’t received much praises despite some successful premieres. This year, despite other huge successes in movie premieres at alternative centers like the ‘3 Idiots and a Wiseman’ which came of at the National Theatre in Accra, ‘Akwaaba’ by Kobi Rana which premiered at Tomreik Hotel in East Legon, and ‘Mad House’ by Leslie Listowell at the National Theatre in Accra, brief interactions with some of the attendants at some of the aforementioned centers revealed that such centers provided a ‘one way entertainment’ feel. Some of the attendants attributed this to the lack of presence of a lively environment such as the Accra or West Hills Mall. With the National Theatre in particular, some also mentioned the abrupt manner in which patrons were exited from the premises after the final movie was shown even sometimes during the rains. As for hotels, their top priority is to provide a serene atmosphere for guests and so after the movie has ended, they quickly go back to their less noisy and calm environment. This also prevents some of the guests from interactinv with other guests or friends and cuts short the evening. Another major factor is the difficulty in accessing public transport from some of the centers like the National Theatre and SNAP Cinema (inside the head office of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly) in the late hours of the night. One may have to rely on the unpredictable service of private commercial transport like Uba or Yango. As for SNAP Cinema, it has an enviable hall with cushion seats and an air conditioning system and a capacity of 312, but it is located in an area known for notorious robbers and pick pockets. This is also a deterent to some families and couples who wish to visit the Cinemas. For this, some movie lovers rate these alternative centers as second to Silverbird Cinemas. Our survey showed that this and transportation were key in consideration for patrons when it came to visiting SNAP Cinema.

With SNAP Cinema, it’s not OK to just inaugurate at venue and leave it to the film makers. Another factor is promotional support. There are no billboards or advertising spaces around the SNAP Cinema that help announce a movie premiere prior to its release date. But, being located in a busy area such as Accra with Accra Technical University and Tema Bus station near by, SNAP Cinema has the potential to compete with the Silverbird Cinemas. This October, the premiere of the movie ‘Baby’ by Kobi Rana received very low patronage from the public and this came as a shock to the few attendants. Kobi Rana is one of Ghana’s most prolific film makers. Last year, he released at least 3 major successful feature films of which were ‘My Name is Ramadan’, and ‘1 Hour to the Wedding’ Starring Prince Dave Osei and other notable faces. This year,  he filled the Tomreik Hotel with people during the premiere of his film ‘Akwaaba’ which happened on the same day as the premiere of actress Yvonne Nelson’s movie ‘Sin City’ at Silverbird Cinemas. This shows that there is no doubt in his ability to produce good materials, yet, his previous success could not be replicated at SNAP Cinema. Other good stories that have seen disappointing premieres at SNAP Cinema are ’95’ busy Kofi Kyei and ‘Save the Street’.

Silverbird Cinemas has also seen losses. Not all movies premiered at the Silverbird Cinemas have had a full house. In fact, there have been some major losses for some movies at the Silverbird Cinemas even with television, radio and online promotions. This year, I attended at least three movie premieres of good films which had very discouraging attendance. Movies like ‘Shuki’ Starring Frank A. and James Gardiner, ‘The Bridge and the Gaps’ Starring Michelle Hammond, and ‘A New Flame’ Starring Kalybos and Adina.

Obviously, the Silverbird Cinemas doesn’t have the midas touch but patrons still prefer it to any other movie centre. After all, ‘silver is worth more than aluminum’ .

By Jerry Wonder

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