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

Left-right: Eva Green in Proxima, Russell Crowe in Unhinged, Liu Yifei in Mulan and John David Washington in TenetImage copyright
Film companies

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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?

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Of the UK’s main cinema chains:

  • 4 July – Showcase
  • 10 July – Vue, Cineworld, Picturehouse
  • TBC – Odeon, Curzon, Everyman

Vue had previously been aiming for 4 July, but needs more time to make the necessary preparations.

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 re-openings in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have yet to be announced by the respective governments.

What safety measures will be in place?

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Showcase Cinemas

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A Showcase employee demonstrating an “anti-viral fogging machine”

The chains that have detailed their safety procedures have said they will put in place:

  • 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 and staff training

The UK Cinema Association will publish full government-agreed guidelines for reopening in the coming days.

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?

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Warner Bros

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Christopher Nolan’s new thriller Tenet is hotly anticipated

Cinemas that are open in early- and mid-July will start by showing classic films.

Vue has said it will screen a re-mastered 4K print of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – the first time any original Star Wars film has been in cinemas in ultra-high definition. Christopher Nolan’s Inception will also be screened for its 10th anniversary.

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

Then, major new film releases scheduled for July include:

  • 10 July: Proxima – Eva Green is the only woman in an arduous astronaut training programme, where Matt Dillon as a fellow astronaut
  • 17 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
  • 24 July: Mulan – Disney’s live action remake of the 1998 animation about the Chinese girl who becomes a warrior
  • 31 July: Tenet – Christopher Nolan’s hotly anticipated time- and reality-bending blockbuster in which John David Washington has to prevent World War Three

In the autumn and winter – assuming cinemas are not forced to shut again – there will be a glut of big movies that 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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