Cinema audiences ‘more confident than ever’ of safe return

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Over a third (38 per cent) of audiences plan to return to cinemas within the first month of sites reopening, a survey has found.

Cinema First, the cross-industry body which conducted the poll, said that audience members are reporting they feel safer about the cinema than other indoor environments such as theatres.

Of the 1,250 cinemagoers it surveyed, another 34 per cent plan to go to the cinema within the first few months of reopening.

Cinema chains like Odeon have committed to guaranteeing unoccupied seats between parties to meet social distancing requirements. Photograph: iStock

Indoor entertainment such as museums, theatres, cinemas, sports stadia and children’s play areas re-opened in England, Scotland and Wales from 17 May under the government’s easing of lockdown restrictions.

Cinema chains are adopting safety measures including limiting the number of seats for sale for each film. On its website, Odeon has committed to guaranteeing unoccupied seats between parties to meet social distancing requirements.

The chain will also be staggering show start times to reduce queues and operating a contactless payment system only. Customers will have to wear face mask when entering the venue, and then be able to remove it when at their seat.

Commenting on his first trip back to the cinema in months, film critic James King told the Metro he ‘felt incredibly safe’: “I think we will [all] feel the same, we’ll be returning to a safe place.”

The British Film Institute said that despite cinema closures during the national restrictions, a third of adults (31 per cent) watched at least one film at the cinema at some point in 2020.

Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive said: “Understanding audiences during the disruption of the pandemic has been important for cinemas as they get ready to welcome them back.

“Over the past 12 months we can see that people across the UK have loved watching films but are now feeling more confident than ever about returning to that big screen communal experience that makes cinema-going so special.”


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