Cinema owners in England got a shot in the arm today when UK prime minister Boris Johnson confirmed that they will be allowed to resume operations on July 4 after being shutdown since mid-March due to the pandemic. Key to the announcement was the halving of the country’s social distancing rule from two meters to one, which as Deadline reported earlier will be a major boost to exhibitors.
Operators are now finalizing the safety guidelines that will need to be implemented to get up and running. Alongside the reduced distancing rules, which exhibs estimate will allow them to operate at around 50% capacity, there are going to be a variety of other measures. But what will these actually look like in practice? Cinemagoers are likely still wondering whether going to the movies will be a largely familiar experience, or something very different.
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A video shared with Deadline today by UK chain Showcase, a multiplex operator, helpfully outlines the various procedures it will be employing for its re-opening, offering an insight into what this reality will look like. You can watch the vid below.
The measures outlined above include a new ‘anti-viral fogging machine’ that eliminates airborne viruses, encouraging the usage of face covering, hand sanitizing stations, a thorough cleaning regime after each screening, perspex shields installed at till points, and encouragement of online ticket purchases and contactless payment.
However, cinema owners say they are still waiting on exact advice from government on how they can comply with specific enhanced safety regulations for the re-opening.
Showcase is opening roughly half of its venues July 4, with the rest of its cinemas opening July 10. Fellow multiplex operator Vue also said today that it will wait until July 10 to re-open all of its English venues.
“We are confident we can look after our staff and our customers with enhanced protocols. By the time we reopen in the UK our methods will have been responsibly and robustly deployed in the real world. We have learned how to do this from our operations in Taiwan where we never closed and have successfully operated through pandemics such as SARS in the past; and from our sites in Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Poland and Lithuania where we have recently and successfully reopened to the public,” Vue CEO Tim Richards said in a statement.
Initial titles are likely to be largely classics, with some re-releases from before the shutdown. Russell Crowe thriller Unhinged is set to be one for the first major new releases, via Altitude on July 17, before Disney’s Mulan and Warner Bros’ Tenet arrive in quick succession.
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