DCM has restructured its operations with a tighter focus on sales as it faces another two months before the planned reopening of cinemas on 17 May.
Britain’s biggest cinema advertising sales house has made seven redundancies – all thought to be in non-sales-facing roles – as the long-term financial impact of the pandemic takes its toll.
DCM employed 75 people before Covid-19, according to its 2019 accounts at Companies House, and the team is thought to have fallen significantly in size because of voluntary departures and unfilled vacancies over the past 12 months, although the company did not give a new headcount figure.
UK cinemas shut for the first time on 17 March 2020, started reopening in July but then had to shut again in November and, after a brief restart, have been closed again since new lockdown restrictions at the turn of the year.
In the 14 months between March 2020 and May 2021, UK cinema admissions will have dropped to 10 million from about 200 million in the prior period, according to DCM.
All of DCM's staff have taken temporary salary reductions and the company has used the Government’s coronavirus job retention furlough scheme to preserve jobs.
DCM made the redundancies in recent weeks following the decision by MGM and Comcast’s Universal Pictures in January to delay again the release of the latest James Bond film, No Time To Die, from April to October 2021.
The Bond movie was first due to debut in April 2020 and was set to be one of the most lucrative of the year in terms of ad sales.
In DCM’s accounts, which were approved by the board on 17 December 2020, before Boris Johnson introduced a new lockdown on 4 January 2021, the company warned of a “severe but plausible downside” that trading would not restart until “the second half of 2021”.
Karen Stacey, chief executive of DCM, said: “The impact the global pandemic has had on our business has been significant, with the cinema medium the hardest hit. And unfortunately our business is still unable to open for at least two months.
“However, we remain extremely confident about the future – [because of] the pipeline of exciting films, the consumer desire for new content and the continued belief by the distributors in the power and benefit of the theatrical release.
“Most importantly, cinema’s impactful contribution to advertisers’ campaigns is arguably stronger than ever. Nothing beats being captivated by great stories on the big screen, in an immersive, distraction-free environment. The big screen is still the best place to watch new content and we can’t wait to be back.”
She said the company was focused on customer service for advertisers and agencies, in preparation for the reopening of cinemas. She noted the fact that most new releases have been postponed by major film studios – with only 14 going straight to streaming during the pandemic – as proof of the importance of theatrical release.
Since Stacey joined DCM in 2015, she has built a highly rated advertising operation, winning sales team of the year at Campaign’s Media Week Awards in 2017.
DCM has also invested in a series of research studies, Building Box Office Brands, about cinema advertising and hosted the annual Digital Cinema Media Awards in partnership with Campaign.