With the national and state governments further easing COVID-19 restrictions, cinemas are set to follow health department guidelines by re-opening slowly on June 22 in Victoria and then July 1 in NSW. Nothing compares to enjoying big movie moments come to life on the big screen and the blockbuster slate for the second half of 2020 is very exciting,” said Village Cinemas CEO Kirk Edwards in an official statement. “After months of self-isolating, an escape to the world of movies is the perfect opportunity to create those unforgettable shared moments with your loved ones.”
Edwards is tipping that all of Village Cinemas locations will be open and operating by July 9, with various COVID-19 measures in place to keep moviegoers safe. Social distancing will be enforced within foyers, restrooms and inside cinema auditoriums, with prominent signage everywhere. Within cinema auditoriums, reduced capacities will be implemented, with every second row marked vacant, as well as a two-seat block out either side of each group. Hand sanitiser stations will be set up, and cleaners will continue to work harder than ever before with rigorous new cleaning programmes rolled out, for both general areas and auditoriums. Cash payments will be stopped, and the contact details of each ticket holder will be taken in order to assist the government’s contact tracing efforts. That’s right, people, The Australian Government will now be able to officially identify you as a Vin Diesel fan.
The big question though: what will the major cinema chains be playing? We will, of course, have to wait for the US film industry and cinema chains to get back on track before we see the likes of Black Widow, Wonder Woman 1984 and No Time To Die, so Australia’s major players will instead hit rewind by playing the recently released films (The Invisible Man, Bloodshot, Bad Boys For Life, Sonic The Hedgehog, Jumanji: The Next Level) that got yanked when cinemas were shut down.
A slightly more interesting array of films will be hitting the screens of Australia’s independent cinemas. Randwick’s Ritz Cinemas are announcing themselves as the first to re-open in NSW, with a start date set for July 1. Like a number of other independents, The Ritz will be operating under similar COVID-19 restrictions to those listed for Village Cinemas, and will look to the titles that went direct to VOD services during the restrictions for their content. Flicks like The Assistant, The Trip To Greece, Hearts And Bones and 100% Wolf will now get a shot at the big screen, while the likes of Honeyland, In My Blood It Runs, Sonic The Hedgehog, Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, The Invisible Man and The Current War will make their return to cinemas. Some cinemas, meanwhile (such as The Thornbury Picture House in Victoria and others), will also go the retro route, with the screening of classics, cult favourites and mini-festivals.
This will be a big moment for Australia’s cinemas, so let’s collectively get off the couch in a show of support.