Hurdles still remain as theatres in US prepare to reopen
LOS ANGELES (US) – When the 60-seater Arena Cinelounge in Los Angeles opens again for the first time in months, more than a dozen seats will be filled by cardboard cutouts of Hollywood icons such as James Dean, Charlie Chaplin and others.
The seating arrangement, which has been put in place to encourage social distancing among the 15 real-life patrons who will be allowed into each screening, is one of the new safety measures theatres are putting in place to reduce the chance of coronavirus spread.
“We’re going above and beyond to make sure that everything is spotless and that audiences feel comfortable and safe being with us for two to three hours,” owner Christian Meoli said.
It is unclear, however, when Meoli and other operators will be able to welcome back guests.
While about 780 indoor cinemas have reopened around the country, officials in Los Angeles County, the largest moviegoing market in the United States, have not yet given the approval, voicing concern about a rise in coronavirus cases. New York City, the country’s No. 2 movie market, also has not set a date for cinema reopenings.
The theater business has been shattered by the coronavirus shutdowns that began in mid-March, laying off tens of thousands of employees and borrowing funds to stay afloat.
The industry is hoping for mass openings in July, when nationwide chains AMC Entertainment, Cinemark and Cineworld’s Regal Cinemas are slated to be back in business. All plan safeguards including limited attendance, extra cleaning and face masks for guests and workers.
Walt Disney Co has said it will roll out action epic “Mulan” on July 24. AT&T Inc’s Warner Bros. had been set to follow with director Christopher Nolan’s thriller “Tenet” on July 31, but the debut was postponed until Aug. 12.
Currently, the first widely released film on Hollywood’s schedule is “Unhinged,” a road rage drama starring Russell Crowe, which is set to debut on July 10.
The actor said he was encouraged to hear reports that moviegoers have been longing to head back to cinemas, especially for thrillers.
“They wanted to be back in that place, in that safe place, in that room, where all the craziness is just happening on the screen, not necessarily in their own lives,” Crowe said in an interview.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field