Though the theatrical exhibition industry has ground to a halt, plans are already being made as to how cinemas will draw customers back in once it’s safe to do so, even if we don’t know when that will be. Right now, we have more questions than answers, When will it be safe to reopen theaters?, What films will be available?, and What legislation will be in place mandating social distancing and sanitation? being just a few. One thing, however, we can all agree on: it is vital that moviegoers be reminded of the magic and power of seeing a film in a theater. Your sofa and your TV—especially after weeks of being isolated indoors—simply can’t replace seeing movies at a physical cinema.
To that end, several hashtag-based social media campaigns have emerged urging moviegoers to remember their love of the theatrical experience and share their anticipation for going back to the movies.
The first of those campaigns was born in the movie-loving country of France, where the hashtag #oniratousaucinema (in English: “we will all go to the cinema”) has been introduced by the trade body La Fédération Nationale des Cinémas Français (FNCF) and promoted by leading B-to-C film site AlloCine. AlloCine and the FNCF have joined forces to produce videos of famous directors and actors promoting their personal favorite movies, theaters, or memories. Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, directors of the huge french success Intouchables (remade in America as The Upside) have kicked off the campaign.
Similar hashtag campaigns have been introduced by AlloCine’s sister sites in Spain (#ConGanasDeCine) and Brazil (#VamosAssistirJuntos). In Germany, the cinema advertising group Weischer Cinema has launched their own hashtag: #HilfDeinenKino.
Crossing over to America, The Boxoffice Company—parent company of AlloCine and our own publication—has launched the hashtag #MoviesTogether, in partnership with marketing and communications firm Strike Media and the U.K.-based MyFilmClub. Per the campaign’s manifesto, the #MoviesTogether campaign “expresses unity and optimism from the four major corners of the theatrical experience: Audiences, filmmakers, studios, and exhibitors.” The website invites anyone to have themselves be counted as cinema supporters by inputting their name, email, and zip code; the last of these gives every movie fan the option of being sent an email to alert them when their local cinemas have reopened their doors. Dolby, Emagine Entertainment, the International Federation of Film Distributors’ Associations, and NewVision Theatres, as well as executives from BeforeTheMovie, Studio Movie Grill, Screenvision Media, National CineMedia, and Cinépolis, have shared the hashtag via social media.
The concept of an industry-wide initiative to urge moviegoers to return to the cinema once it is safe to do so is one that’s been floating around in the weeks since U.S. cinemas shut down. “It’s vitally important that as an entire industry we’re getting behind a united front,” explained B&B Theatres executive vice president Bobbie Bagby in Boxoffice Pro’s inaugural LIVE Session webinar. “We really do have an opportunity to create a movement about why it’s important to go to the movies.” Speaking internationally, as UNIC leadership explained to Boxoffice Pro, different countries will reopen their theaters at different times, meaning the messaging for Market A may not be the same as it should be for Market B. Given that, we can expect other countries’ trade bodies to kickstart their own “back to the movies” campaigns once their timelines become more clear.
Even though theatergoing may now seem a distant point on the horizon, Bagby argues, “it’s important that we’re all getting our heads around what that messaging is so that we have a united front. … [Moviegoing can] that sweet spot in American culture, and in worldwide culture, about how it’s time to be together. You’ve been alone. You’ve been quarantined. Now let’s get out and enjoy community, and do that in our movie theaters.”