SA cinemas still closed - amid a lack of new movies, uncertainty about new rules

Business Insider SA
For the movie lovers.
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  • Cinemas are allowed to reopen under new lockdown regulations, but Ster-Kinekor and Nu Metro still don't have a date for their return.
  • There is some uncertainty about how many people will be allowed in an auditorium.
  • And there is also a lack of new movies to show.
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While government gazetted the long-awaited rules this week that allow cinemas to reopen, there is no indication of when Nu-Metro and Ster-Kinekor will resume operations.

And there is still some uncertainty about how many people will be allowed in.

According to the new government regulations, cinemas and theatres are only allowed 50 people at a time (excluding staff). But some in the industry say it is not clear whether this means per auditorium or in the whole cinema – across screening rooms.

"As per the government gazetted rules announced on 06 July, Ster-Kinekor cinemas will operate in line with the permitted number of 50 guests per auditorium (excluding staff)," the company said in a statement.

But others in the industry want government to confirm whether this is indeed the case before they will reopen. 

Cinemas have fourteen days from the publishing of the regulations to submit plans for their reopening, and planned protocols, to the minister of sports, arts and culture.

By law, they must make sure that visitors maintain a physical distance of 1.5m from each other. Patrons’ temperatures will be screened before entry, and those with elevated temperatures will be refused access. The now-standard requirement rules for hand sanitiser, cleaning and cloth masks must also be maintained, while the regulations also say that contactless payments and pre -booking should be used where possible.

While this has not been included in the local regulations, in other parts of the world all self-serve components, such as flavouring shakers for popcorn, have been banned.

Apart from the uncertainty about the cap on patrons, local cinemas are also contending with a lack of new films.

As cinemas remain closed in many parts of the world, and even those who can go to the cinema stay away for fear of catching Covid-19, the large studios have halted new releases, or - in the case of from "The Invisible Man" to "Bloodshot," for example – allowed them to be streamed on on-demand services.

The release of the James Bond film “No Time To Die” has been pushed back to November (from April). Paramount has also delayed the worldwide release of "A Quiet Place Part II", and Disney postponed upcoming releases like "Mulan" and "Black Widow".

Film production has been disrupted by global lockdowns, so the pipeline may be very thin for months to come.

Chantelle Burrows, marketing and content executive at Nu Metro, says that while the company still doesn’t have a date for its reopening, it plans to open all its cinemas, and offer movie tickets at the same prices as before lockdown.

The article has been updated with a Ster-Kinekor statement.

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