With cinemas across the world beginning to open for business once again, Belgium-based exhibitor Kinepolis has released updated reopening plans for its 111 theaters in Europe and North America.
“We wish to emphasise that the health of our moviegoers and staff remains our absolute priority and that we rely on the expert advice of the competent authorities in each country regarding the duration of the closure, as well as the modalities for reopening,” said the exhibitor in a press release. “In all countries, Kinepolis applies a strict safety protocol for visitors and staff, whereby respecting appropriate distances, managing visitor flows and adhering to strict hygiene rules are of utmost importance.”
In Europe, many of Kinepolis’s locations have already opened their doors, albeit with enhanced safety measures in place. On June 1, all 18 Kinepolis locations in the Netherlands reopened with a capacity of 30 people per screen, as mandated by the national government. While those restrictions are scheduled to lift on July 1, the exhibitor notes that the country’s social distancing rules will remain in place at its theaters there.
The Netherlands reopenings were followed on June 6 by Kinepolis’s single theater in Switzerland; on June 17 by its three theaters in Luxembourg; on June 22 by its 13 theaters in France (with a 50% seating capacity limit) and throughout the month of June at its theaters in Spain, where the final three Kinepolis locations – in Alicante, Granada and Alzira – opened on June 26. Capacity restrictions in Spain are limited to one-third of seats in each auditorium, though that is expected to rise to 50% in the next phase.
In the exhibitor’s home country of Belgium, Kinepolis theaters are slated to reopen on July 1 with a 200-person limit per auditorium, as required by the national government. By August 1, the exhibitor hopes to lift that to 400 people per screen, provided social distancing can continue at that capacity and “if the [Covid-19] situation continues to evolve favourably.”
In North America, Kinepolis kicked off its reopening plans with six Landmark cinemas in Alberta, Canada, which reopened their doors on June 26. They will be followed by Landmark’s remaining six theaters in Alberta as well as all 13 theaters in British Columbia and all three theaters in Saskatchewan, all of which are scheduled to reopen on July 3. The exhibitor’s remaining Canadian locations — in the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba and Yukon — will remain closed until they receive reopening guidelines from local authorities.
In the U.S. – where Kinepolis owns several MJR cinemas in Michigan – theaters in the northern part of the state have already reopened with 25% capacity restrictions in place. They will be followed in early July by theaters in south Michigan, with are expected to reopen with the same capacity restrictions.
“We are delighted that we can once again offer film lovers in all countries the movie experience they have come to expect from us,” said Kinepolis Group CEO Eddy Duquenne in a statement. “I am convinced that people are yearning to enjoy entertainment together again, the ‘night out’ they have missed for so long. We will make every effort to welcome them back in a safe manner and to let them relax and enjoy the latest films, as well as cinema classics that we’re bringing back to the big screen.”
The Kinepolis reopenings come amid relaxed government shelter-in-place orders in countries across the globe, as the exhibition industry grapples with plummeting box office receipts year-over-year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Already, Covid-19 is estimated to have caused a 70 percent year-to-date drop against last year’s worldwide box office, according to OMDIA director of cinema David Hancock; overall, OMDIA anticipates a 58 percent drop in global box office revenue in 2020, with losses somewhere in the range of $20 to $31 billion in a year that had been expected to cross the $40 billion mark prior to the outbreak of the pandemic worldwide.
Much of that drop can be attributed to the early closure of theaters in the once-thriving market of China, which have been shuttered since January due to the coronavirus outbreak there. Closures in Europe began on February 23, when Italy ordered all theaters in the northern part of the country to shut down, followed by theaters in the south, all of which closed by March 8. By the end of the same month, theaters on most of the rest of the continent had also been forced to close.