- Title: "Second golden age of cinema" forecast as movie theatres reopen in England
- Date: 17th May 2021
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (MAY 17, 2021) (REUTERS) FILM CRITIC, KALEEM AFTAB, WALKING PAST CINEMA (SOUNDBITE) (English) FILM CRITIC, KALEEM AFTAB, SAYING: "I think people are more confident because last summer things opened up and the corona situation was a little bit better. So at least for this summer, they're confident that they will be able to release some films. I think they're not 100% confident because we got films like "Black Widow", "Fast and Furious", I think they're opening day on the day so viewers have a choice of whether to come and see them the way they're meant to be seen in the cinema or at home on their TV sets. (REPORTER ASKING OFF CAMERA "So not completely there yet, then?") Yeah, I don't think we're going to be completely there until after the summer. I think when we're looking beyond and we see films like the James Bond that is scheduled to come out at the end of September, early October, that's when we're really going to see the billion-dollar movies back." GENE KELLY STATUE IN LEICESTER SQUARE WITH CINEMAS IN BACKGROUND SIGN FOR LEICESTER SQUARE EXTERIOR OF ODEON CINEMA LIGHTS OUTSIDE CINEMA
- Embargoed: 31st May 2021 18:09
- Keywords: Britain reopening Kaleem Aftab London Leicester Square London movie theaters Philip Clapp UK cinemas Vue CEO Tim Richards cinemas reopen summer movies
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM AND VARIOUS FILM LOCATIONS
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM AND VARIOUS FILM LOCATIONS
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Arts/Culture/Entertainment,Europe,Film
- Reuters ID: LVA007EDCNMA5
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Londoner Sam Poch was anticipating the thrill of the big screen lighting up as he waited on Monday (May 17) to enter a cinema on Leicester Square - a once routine experience that has not been possible for months because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The 31-year-old content producer was among the first arriving to watch a film the old-fashioned way as cinemas in England reopened their doors as part of the latest stage in the government's phased lockdown relaxation plan.
"I missed it a lot. It's just the whole experience of going out, sitting down in (front of) the big screen, and just the feeling of being in a cinema - it's just something I've missed for the past year," Poch told Reuters before his screening.
"I can't wait to go inside and watch a film."
Across England, Wales, and parts of Scotland, indoor entertainment venues were welcoming back audiences after several months of closure, albeit operating at 50 percent capacity, with social distancing and other safety measures in place.
Tim Richards, the founder, and CEO of cinema chain Vue International said the business was seeing bookings at levels slightly above a normal pre-COVID market, which he described as very exciting.
"We have a situation now where we're going to be having almost three years of movies in the next 12 to 18 months. So we're looking at this extraordinary period where I believe we're going to be looking at the second golden age of cinema."
Richards said his teams had been closely following the markets across Europe and had noticed a similar pattern in the nine countries the chain operates in.
"We've actually been drifting up. We started around the third thing everyone wanted to see. First was getting a haircut. Now that's actually happened. So we're now in all of our markets, either the first or second thing that everyone wants to do, and where we're not first, we're second to restaurants."
Vue, rival chains Odeon and Cineworld, and smaller independent cinemas were first forced to shut their doors in March last year as Britons were ordered to stay at home to stop the spread of COVID-19.
When measures eased in the summer, they reopened for a while, only to be obliged to close again months later.
"In 2020, both admissions and box office were down 75% on the previous year and we think that equates roughly to around 2 billion pounds ($2.8 billion) in lost revenue," said Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association.
Now cinemas are counting on highly-anticipated films like the latest James Bond offering "No Time to Die", and Marvel's "Black Widow", both pushed back from 2020, to entice audiences.
"Last year, cinemas were able to open for a few months, and to be honest, the lack of availability of big films meant it was always a slightly half-hearted affair," said Clapp.
"This time, I think absolutely there's an expectation this is it, and that cinema audience will want to come back and enjoy the big screen."
As for the film studios, it might be some time before they feel confident with cinema-only releases, said film critic Kaleem Aftab.
"I think they're not 100% confident because we got films like "Black Widow", "Fast and Furious", I think they're opening day on day, so viewers have a choice of whether to come and see them the way they're meant to be seen in the cinema or at home on their TV sets."
"I don't think we're going to be completely there until after the summer. I think when we're looking beyond and we see films like the James Bond that is scheduled to come out at the end of September, early October, that's when we're really going to see the billion-dollar movies back."
(Production: Hanna Rantala, Gerhard Mey)
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