After 2020 saw many cinemas closed for 6 months or more, and a box office shattered by a loss of over 80% from 2019. Admissions have been recorded as being down almost 132 million as well, and in the UK, leaders have been heavily anticipating the summer.
With the vaccination efforts now rising, and with over 10 million adults now receiving a first dose, all eyes have been looking forwards out of the pandemic. Cinemas have been shut across the country since it entered a third lockdown as 2021 began, and recent announcements preclude anything changing in the next month at least.
“Could be earlier, could be later”
However, in an interview with Variety, BFI chief executive, Ben Roberts exclaimed quiet confidence that the tide was about to turn. Here’s what he had to say:
In terms of everyone forecasting, May feels reasonable. Could be earlier, could be later.
May would fit in well with the current film slate which has seen so many delays and cancellations since March 2020. Walt Disney Studios is currently is still aiming for the release of Black Widow this May, which could be a perfect film for cinemas to bounce back with.
Announcements for a scheduled out of lock-down for the UK is expected early in March from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Unlike within previous lock-downs, it’s expected it will be a national approach across the board. There would be no tier systems this time.
UK cinema chain, Cineworld expects to reopen by May
Cineworld PLC has already made references to shareholders that they expect to re-open no later than May 2021, who notably chose to shutter all their sites in early October. However, as Phill Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association also told Variety it will “be different for different companies and venues, so that, even when cinemas are allowed to re-open, it will be sometime before the entire sector is back up and running”.
Most likely we will see smaller, independent venues open up before large chains begin. With smaller staffing and less reliance upon tent pole blockbusters, they wouldn’t have to wait for a Black Widow to open should the dates allow an April opening.
Whereas for a chain such as Cineworld or Odeon, they most likely also will have to recruit (after terminating many staff last year), and await a larger release to ensure audience figures. Not to mention social distancing capacity limits, which is still expected to remain in place throughout the summer, will also dictate when cinemas reopen along with consumer confidence.
Surprisingly in India last month they removed distancing altogether in cinemas with operators allowed 100% capacity due to the reduction in cases. It’s too early to suggest such a thing happening in the UK at the moment, but one thing is for sure, the momentum is gathering for May reopening.
Are you excited to return to the cinema? Will you be watching a film in the cinema when they reopen or will you wait until later in the year? Let us know in the comments below.
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