Cinemas won't reopen in the UK until at least May 17

Ian Sandwell
·3-min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Cinemas in the UK have been closed for the majority of this year to date, but there's a ray of light on the horizon for anybody craving to see the latest blockbuster on the big screen.

Back in February, Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined the plans for the roadmap to lifting lockdown in England, with cinemas being able to reopen from no earlier than May 17.

However if you've got a hankering for a big-screen experience, drive-in cinemas are now open in England as they were part of the most recent changes, which came into effect on April 12.

It's not quite the dark of the cinema, but at least there's only a few weeks to wait until they can open on May 17 in England – and it seems that'll be the case for the rest of the UK.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also confirmed that cinemas in Scotland can reopen from May 17, but plans haven't been announced for a cinema reopening date in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

We're still waiting to see the exact plans for what cinemas will look like when they reopen, but we imagine that the majority of cinemas will follow what they did when they reopened for a period in late summer last year.

That included things like staggered showtimes and allocated seating to ensure social distancing in each screen. We imagine that will still be the case if cinemas reopen in May, even though the vaccine rollout has started in the UK.

The three major chains in the UK – Cineworld, Odeon and Vue – will likely announce plans for their reopening in the coming weeks. We know for sure that Cineworld is aiming at reopening its sites on May 17, having closed them on October 5, 2020 due to a lack of new releases.

This year, we've seen a lot of major releases skip cinemas and receive a digital release in the UK, such Godzilla vs Kong and Chaos Walking.

Photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
Photo credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Digital releases are set to become more commonplace, even when cinemas reopen, but Cineworld has agreed an exclusive theatrical window of 31 days.

This means that once cinemas reopen, Warner Bros movies won't be available to rent at home for 31 days after their cinema release. This could extend to 45 days if a movie hits an agreed-upon box-office result.

Typically, the major chains in the UK won't show a movie in their cinemas if they're available to rent at home, so we can expect to see other studios secure similar deals with the major chains too.

The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you're in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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