Binging on Netflix’s chaotic documentary Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness or BBC’s drama enthused romance story Normal People was fun at the time, but film enthusiasts across the country are missing their slotted time in front of the big screen. And who can blame them? The cinematic experience is all encompassing. It’s one of the very few places it’s acceptable to drop twenty pounds on a tub of popcorn and large, usually flat, fizzy drink, as well as lavishly spending another fifteen pounds on a ticket to a movie you know very little about. But, oh how we miss it, from its soft scent of burnt popcorn wafting through the building to its ability to suspend our disbelief from the moment the trailers begin rolling.
The cultural sector has been hit hard due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, and as cinemas begin to open from 4th July, we decided to take a look at what a post-pandemic cinematic experience might just look like according to the new UK Cinema Association guidelines.
Will I be able to get my tickets at the door?
Although for a lot of people heading to the cinema is a rather sporadic and spontaneous affair, the new guidelines suggest that planning is going to be needed. To avoid coming in face-to-face contact, it’s looking likely that the use of e-tickets will be largely encouraged in order to keep both the cinema workers and the general public safe.
The guidelines are also encouraging a contactless method of ticket checking, such as self-scanning being achieved by the customers rather than the cinema staff. This will again allow the social distancing guidelines to be kept achievable and keep both customers and cinema staff safe throughout the cinematic experience.
But what about the popcorn?
Indulging in popcorn, fizzy drinks and endless pick ‘n’ mix is hugely part of the cinematic experience, but the usual grab-and-go style areas are going to change rather a lot. The UK Cinema Association guidelines, in line with government approval, suggest that floor markers are going to be necessary, helping to direct customers to food and drink collection points.
But it is looking likely any open and unpackaged self-service areas are going to be off the cards, so you won’t be indulging on your beloved pick ‘n’ mix. Expect the usual PPE screens to be present between the food and ticket stands to allow staff and customers to be kept safe during busy film screenings.
Again it’s likely that your local cinema will encourage the use of pre-ordering, so if you know you’re going to want to munch through a bag of popcorn and slurp up your cola then it’s going to be best to look into what your local cinema is doing to encourage limited face-to-face interaction and the encouragement of social distancing. We’re a nation who has become ever used to contactless payments over the last few months so expect to be encouraged to tap your debit card rather than insert it when paying for your supplies.
Can I still attend with friends?
Although every chain and independent cinema will be different, it’s looking likely you won’t be able to pile in with yourself and your whole crew.
To avoid large crowds and to enable social distancing is kept feasible, every screening will be held at a reduced rate. The UK Cinema Association clearly states that “maximum capacity should be based on the government requirement for social distancing, venue layout and the configuration of space.”
Cinema seating will be all socially distanced, so you won’t be sat next to other households, which could well be a blessing if your biggest pet peeve is the sound of someone crunching on food, notably popcorn.
At the moment the guidelines are suggesting that only groups of up to two households will be allowed, but again it’s recommended that you check with your local cinema to see how they are going to be operating as some may allow less.
Will I need to wear a mask?
Every cinema will be slightly different but as suggested by the government, it’s good practice to be wearing a face mask or covering when inside a confined space.
It’s looking likely that cinema workers will be wearing face masks when working, as well as helping to maintain that the cinema environment is clean and safe with extra hand sanitisers, cleaning and additional staff training.
What films will actually be showing?
All of the major film releases have been pushed back and will be released later on in the summer, so going forwards from the 4th of July, cinemas will be allowed to screen films from an archive of around 450 films. It’s to encourage customers in until new releases are readily available.
Can we expect more streaming sites to premiere new movie releases?
With the evident growth in streaming sites, it’s likely that film directors and companies will continue to premiere on Netflix and other streaming services following the outbreak of COVID-19.
Over the last few months we’ve seen big budget films including Judd Apatow’s The Kind of Staten Island and Kenneth Branagh’s Artemis Fowl make a beeline for online streaming sites and rentals, while other directors, including John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place Part II, saying that they would not be releasing their films because they need to be enjoyed and experienced in a group setting. So it’s really going to be dependent on the film company and director.
Are drive-ins the new cinema experience?
Quite possibly. Drive-in cinemas are always hugely popular come summertime and it’s looking likely that this summer will be no different. We’ve already seen a surge in drive-in cinemas scheduled to pop up this summer but if you’re looking to see films you haven’t already seen a thousand times over, a real cinematic experience is your best bet.
For more information on your local cinema, it’s best to check your local cinema’s website or enquire directly to see when they’ll be opening and what they’ll be doing from 4th July onwards.