Cinemas across England have closed their doors for four weeks as the country entered a second coronavirus lockdown.
The lockdown will run from 5 November until 2 December, after MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the new restrictions.
Boris Johnson has sought to reassure people the measures will be eased on 2 December as planned, and should enable cinemas and other businesses to reopen in time for the run-up to Christmas.
But the prime minister acknowledged that it would depend on getting the R number – the reproduction rate of the virus – back down below one.
The new guidelines mean non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues must all close – including cinemas.
The shutdown is another blow for the ailing cinema industry, which saw 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse sites closing indefinitely in October, shortly after studios MGM and Universal said that the James Bond film No Time To Die would be pushed back to April 2021.
Marvel film Black Widow, sci-fi blockbuster Dune and Jurassic World: Dominion are also among the high-profile titles that have seen release delays as a result of the global pandemic.
Cinema chain Vue said it hopes to be back ‘as soon as possible’ offering refunds to customers who had booked tickets for the lockdown period.
We're temporarily closing all our venues in England by Wednesday night, but we’ll be back with the ultimate big screen experience as soon as possible. For information on timings and refunds, as well as updates on our venues outside of England, click here:
— Vue (@vuecinemas) November 3, 2020
Odeon cinemas thanked its customers for their support since reopening back in July after the first coronavirus lockdown, saying it was looking forward to ‘welcoming you back soon’.
The big screen will be back. Thank you for all your support, and we can't wait to see you again soon. 🎬 🍿 pic.twitter.com/mtZBFqe9Bs
— ODEON (@ODEONCinemas) November 5, 2020
Showcase issued a statement reassuring its customers that its sites would be back soon, reminding them that its cinema in Nangarw, Cardiff will be reopening its doors on 9 November.
“We worked tirelessly to be the first major circuit in the UK to reopen our cinemas back in July, and would like to thank families, friends and film fans for visiting and supporting us since then,” Mark Barlow, UK general manager for Showcase Cinemas said.
“Our industry has weathered many difficult moments through the decades, and none more so than this year. Through these unprecedented times, we come back to the same conclusion – people want and need to go to the cinema.”
Indie cinemas, many of which were only just able to reopen after implementing new COVID-19 safety precautions, have also closed their doors. London’s Prince Charles Cinema changed its hoardings accordingly to display the word ‘Intermission’.
Right. Closing up for a while.
To our fellow independent cinemas in the UK + all supporters of #indiecinema: we love you, we got this. See you soon. @genesiscinema @riocinema @archlightc @arthousen8 @deptfordcinema @regentStCinema @hydeparkph @richmixlondon @electriccinema pic.twitter.com/zw4sVFKzx2
— The Prince Charles Cinema (@ThePCCLondon) November 4, 2020
Film distributors have had to respond quickly to the new lockdown which was only announced on Saturday.
Most, but not all, films due for release in November have been pushed back, however some will still receive a theatrical release as cinemas remain open in some parts of Scotland, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Cinemas in Wales can reopen from Monday, while those in Northern Ireland can reopen from 12 November following shorter ‘firebreak’ shutdowns.
Films affected include airplane thriller Horizon Line (due in cinemas on 6 November, now delayed to a future date), heartwarming festive drama A Christmas Gift From Bob (releasing in nine cinemas and on PVOD from 6 November).
Watch the trailer for A Christmas Gift From Bob, the sequel to A Street Cat Named Bob
Studiocanal’s festival favourites Supernova and Another Round were set for release in November, but they will get new release dates soon, as will Pedro Almodovar’s The Human Voice starring Tilda Swinton. Sony will continue with plans to release teen drama Words on Bathroom Walls and indie comedy The Last Shift where cinemas are open over the next two weekends.
Blumhouse’s brilliant new bodyswap horror Freaky, starring Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton, will no longer be released on 13 November and awaits a new release plan. Netflix’s planned theatrical releases of Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy and David Fincher’s Mank ahead of their streaming debuts, seem to be going ahead where cinemas are open.
Brandon Cronenberg’s buzzy horror Possessor will now be a PVOD release only and will be on streaming platforms from 27 November.