European Cinemas Face Second Round of Closures, Additional Restrictions Due to Covid-19 Spike

Photo by Thomas Laconis. Image courtesy: The Grand Rex

Cinemas across Europe are dealing with a new wave of government-mandated closures and restrictions as the Covid-19 infection rate continues to rise across the continent.

Today, major markets France and Germany became the latest territories ordered to close the doors of their cinemas in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

France and Germany join Slovakia, Wales (expected to reopen November 9), Italy (November 24), and Ireland (December 2) in a growing list of countries where screens have gone dark for the second time this year. The Czech Republic recently finished its second stage of cinema closures on October 26. 

France has experienced a dramatic uptick in its number of Covid-19 cases, prompting curfews in major cities including Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Lille, and Toulouse earlier this month. France is the largest market in terms of screen count (6,114) and second-largest in cinema admissions (213 million tickets sold in 2019) among members of UNIC, Europe’s cinema trade association.

Cinemas across the whole of France were previously ordered closed on March 14 and were allowed to reopen starting June 22.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a month-long shutdown of bars, restaurants, and cinemas through the entirety of November. The country ranks third among UNIC members in the number of cinema screens (4,961) and fourth in admissions (118.6 million tickets sold) in 2019. 

Elsewhere in Europe, regional shutdowns and restrictions have occurred in England, Spain, Belgium, Romania, Slovenia, and Switzerland since most of the continent’s cinemas were allowed to reopen over the summer. In some instances, movie theaters have been subject to decreased operation hours due to local curfews or have been forced to cease the sale of concessions.

Before today’s announcements in France and Germany, the European Audiovisual Observatory estimated a 70 percent year-over-year drop in box office revenue for cinemas in the European Union. Europe represented 23 percent of 2019’s global box office, according to the Motion Picture Association.

Image taken from UNIC’s 2019 Annual Report.

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