Coronavirus: UK cinemas are looking at reopening in May

"May feels reasonable. Could be earlier, could be later," said the chairman of the BFI

With the UK still in lockdown and the COVID-19 vaccination program underway, cinemas are now looking at a potential reopening date of May.

Cinemas across the country have largely been closed since the country went into lockdown last March, though a number of venues did open briefly at the end of last summer.

Across 2020, the cinema industry has been hugely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Back in October, Cineworld temporarily suspended its operations in the US and UK, putting thousands of jobs – including 5,500 in Britain – at risk.

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Now, BFI chief executive Ben Roberts has eyed a potential reopening date of May for cinemas across the country.

“We are starting to consider reopening dates, Roberts told Variety. “In terms of everyone forecasting, May feels reasonable. Could be earlier, could be later.

“We do know there’s a march forward now,” he added.

Cinema
Cinemas have started 2021 with their doors closed and their seats empty. Credit: Alamy

A spokesperson for cinema chain Vue told Variety: “The pent-up demand for out-of-home entertainment is huge, and we have an unprecedented line up of movies that awaits cinema goers later this year with three years’ of movies in the space of 18 months.”

Phil Clapp, boss of the UK Cinema Association, added that reopening will depend upon national restrictions still being in place, the supply of new blockbuster films, capacity issues caused by the need for social distancing and more.

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“Some of those considerations will be different for different companies and venues, so that even when cinemas are allowed to re-open, it will be some time before the entire sector is back up and operating I suspect,” he said.

The UK box office dropped a staggering 76 per cent in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The drop came after five consecutive years of the box office topping £1.3 billion, while 2020’s earnings came in at just £323 million.

Many major studio releases were postponed last year, the most high profile being James Bond’s No Time To Die. After being delayed from its original April 2, 2020 release date, fans were expecting to be able to see the next instalment in the franchise in the UK on November 12 and in the US on November 20 – but the film has now been pushed back again to April 2021.

The UK has been in nationwide lockdown since January 5, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson setting a date of March 8 for the potential layout of new measures.

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