‘IMAX 20th Century is here to stay’, Director says days after auctioneers raided property over rent arrears

Digital cinema IMAX has assured its clients that it’s not closing down the business, following reports that their properties have been auctioned due to rent arrears.

Their statement comes after auctioneers on Wednesday this week raided the IMAX Theatre at 20th Century Mama Ngina street and carted away with theatre equipment, leaving the premises empty in a bid to raise rent arrears amounting to over Sh 8 million.

The auctioneers carried with them retractable seats, projectors, TV sets, power backup units, roof, and wall-mounted speakers, POS, printers and computers, and bar and kitchen items.

IMAX Director Naomi Mwangi through a statement on Friday said the rent arrears accrued beginning March this year after the government ordered the closure of all entertainment joints as part of coronavirus containment measures, a directive that took a toll on their business.

She explained that IMAX had negotiated with the property owner to be given a reasonable discount on the rent payable during the corona pandemic at a time they are closed, but said it came as a “shock that the landlord chose to distress for rent when negotiations were ongoing”

Mwangi however urged IMAX clients and partners to be calm as they sort out the issues, adding that business will resume after government lifts the ban on the closure of entertainment joints.

“We are urging customers, partners, staff and friends of ANGA IMAX to maintain calmness and patience as we put things in line,” she said.

“We are not closing the IMAX cinema in 20th Century due to rent arrears or other obligations. We are here to stay,” she added.

The closure on entertainment joints has hit the sector hard with most businesses shutting down as they can not sustain employees and paying rent.

President Uhuru Kenyatta in April pleaded with landlords and property owners to be lenient with their tenants so as to survive during these tough economic times brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However a recent survey shows that most Kenyans couldn’t afford to pay rent, while only a few incidences where landlords are reported to have waived or reduced rent for their tenants.