How and when will cinemas reopen in England, and which films can you see?

By Ian Youngs
Entertainment & arts reporter

  • Published
Left-right: Eva Green in Proxima, Russell Crowe in Unhinged, Liu Yifei in Mulan and John David Washington in TenetImage source, Film companies
Image caption,
Coming soon (left-right): Proxima, Unhinged, Mulan and Tenet

Cinemas in England can reopen from 4 July, the government has confirmed - although many will not be ready to do so by that date.

Below, find out which cinemas are reopening when, what safety measures will be in place, and which films you'll be able to watch.

When are cinemas are reopening?

Image source, AFP

Of the UK's main cinema chains:

  • Showcase - nine cinemas on 4 July and eight more on 10 July
  • Odeon - 10 cinemas from 4 July, then a further 88 over the subsequent two weeks
  • Everyman - six branches on 4 July, with the other 27 after that
  • Curzon - Canterbury on 17 July, Mayfair on 24 July, and most of the other 11 on 31 July
  • Cineworld& Picturehouse - were due to open on 10 July, but now pushed back to 31 July
  • Vue - were due to open from 10 July, but now pushed back to 31 July

Many independent cinemas are choosing to wait longer. In a survey by the Independent Cinema Office, 13% of venues said they would be back in July, with 15% reopening in August and a further 23% in September.

Manchester's Home is among those holding off until September. Executive director Jon Gilchrist said July was not the best option for venues "whose programmes do not focus on the summer blockbusters".

He said: "Instead we want to take the time to ensure that we have time to make the necessary adjustments to the building, and to speak to our audiences about how they can be involved in our plans."

Details of reopenings in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have yet to be announced by the respective governments.

What safety measures will be in place?

Image source, Showcase Cinemas
Image caption,
A Showcase employee demonstrating an "anti-viral fogging machine"

Guidelines published by the UK Cinema Association and approved by the government include:

  • Socially distanced seating, with people from different households sitting apart, and with a limited capacity in each screen
  • Staggered start and finished times to avoid congestion in foyers
  • Hand sanitisers, extra cleaning, staff training, and plastic screens at tills and kiosks
  • Encouraging people to use online booking, e-ticketing and contactless payment where possible
  • Pick 'n' mix stands to be removed, and people encouraged to pre-order popcorn
  • No sing-along screenings

Showcase, which has released the greatest detail, said it would encourage customers to use face masks, although a safety video suggests people can remove them once they have taken their seats.

The chain also promised that an "anti-viral fogging machine" will be used on every seat between every screening, and each auditorium will have an air purifying system. People will be able to order popcorn and snacks in advance, and scan their own tickets to gain entry.

Vue said it was waiting for advice from government, but that its methods had been "responsibly and robustly" tested in its venues in countries like Taiwan, Germany and Denmark.

Odeon said it had been "working hard to implement new health and safety measures across all of our sites", and Cineworld said it was following government guidelines "in order to make cinemagoers feel as comfortable and safe as possible".

Which films will be showing?

Image source, Warner Bros
Image caption,
Christopher Nolan's new thriller Tenet has been pushed back to August

Cinemas that are open in early- and mid-July will start by showing classic films like Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Inception, and movies that were in cinemas before they shut, like Onward and 1917.

Cinemas have been given access to an archive of 450 films to choose from while the schedule of new releases ramps up.

Then, new film releases scheduled for the summer include:

  • 10 July: Saint Frances - an acclaimed indie comedy starring Kelly O'Sullivan as a 34-year-old nanny who makes questionable choices
  • 10 July: Dreambuilders - an animation about a girl who can control her dreams
  • 31 July: Proxima - Eva Green is the only woman in an arduous astronaut training programme, where Matt Dillon as a fellow astronaut
  • 31 July: Unhinged - Russell Crowe takes road rage to a new level as he goes on the trail of a mother who dared to sound her horn at him
  • 12 August: Tenet - Christopher Nolan's hotly anticipated time- and reality-bending blockbuster in which John David Washington has to prevent World War Three
  • 21 August: Mulan - Disney's live action remake of the 1998 animation about the Chinese girl who becomes a warrior

In the autumn and winter - assuming cinemas are not forced to shut again - there will be a glut of big movies, many of which had been delayed. They include: A Quiet Place Part II (4 September), The King's Man (16 September), Wonder Woman 1984 (2 October), Black Widow (28 October), No Time To Die (12 November), Soul (20 November), and Top Gun: Maverick (23 December).

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