Cinemas to reopen with staggered film times and rearranged seating

Cinemas to reopen with staggered film times and rearranged seating
Business Stock

Cinemas will be allowed to reopen around England from July 4, when lockdown measures ease, but will feature new socially distanced seating configurations and staggered film start times.

Multiplexes and smaller screens have been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, but will now start opening their doors again.

Cineworld and Picturehouse cinemas have previously announced plans to reopen on July 10.

Cineworld, which has about 100 cinemas around the UK, has said it has updated its booking system to ensure social distancing, and adapted its daily movie schedules to manage queues and avoid the build-up of crowds in lobbies.

It has also said it has enhanced cleanliness and sanitation procedures across all sites.

A statement from the chain said: “The health and wellbeing of our customers and employees is our top priority.

“We are following government guidelines in order to make cinema-goers feel as comfortable and safe as possible.

“This includes implementing measures such as: arranging cinemas in a manner that promotes and maintains social distancing, staggering film start and end times, setting up additional hand sanitising stations, undertaking an advanced cleaning programme and providing staff with Covid-19 specific training.

“We will ensure a safe and enjoyable cinematic experience for all our visitors and we remain committed to being the best place to watch a movie.”

The first new films due to be released are expected to be Proxima, starring Eva Green, scheduled for release on July 10, and road rage thriller Unhinged, starring Russell Crowe, which is due for launch on July 17.

Christopher Nolan’s latest offering, Tenet, starring Robert Pattinson and John David Washington, is also expected to be released at the end of July.

More than 450 films, including Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Singin’ In The Rain and The Sound Of Music, will be available to cinemas when they reopen to help them entice audiences back.

The films have been collated by the Film Distributors’ Association (FDA) in a document entitled Relaunching Cinema: Content for Recovery.

The list of titles, which also includes 1917, Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood and recent Oscar winner Parasite, is part of the first stage of cross-industry body Cinema First’s coronavirus recovery strategy.

The opening of cinemas will be made subject to guidelines agreed between the UK Cinema Association and Government officials, which are due to be published later this week.

Phil Clapp, chief executive of  the UK Cinema Association, which represents the interests of more than 90% of UK cinema operators, said: “Today’s announcement is hugely welcome not just to cinema operators in England, but also we know to the many regular cinema-goers who can’t wait to get back to enjoying the big screen experience.

“We welcome in particular the acknowledgement implicit in today’s statement of the work the sector has undertaken in reassuring ministers that cinemas in England can reopen safely for audiences and staff members alike.

“While discussions with the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland continue, today is undoubtedly a significant step forward for the UK cinema sector.”

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